Independent Abortion Clinics Are ‘Disappearing From Communities’ After the End of Roe v. Wade
USA Today, December 8, 2022
Twice as many independent abortion clinics have closed so far in 2022 compared to the year before as facilities shuttered in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision this year to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to an association for independent abortion care providers. As of November, 42 independent abortion clinics closed or were forced to stop providing abortion care in 2022 — more than double the 20 closures in 2021, according to a Tuesday report by the Abortion Care Network. Independent abortion care providers, also called “indies,” are community-based reproductive health clinics not affiliated with a national organization like Planned Parenthood, said ACN Deputy Director Erin Grant. While indies represent about 24% of all facilities offering abortion care nationwide, they provide 55% of all abortion procedures, according to the report. “Over the last decade, abortion clinics have been closing at an alarming rate,” Grant said. “There’s no form of health care that should be impacted this deeply and be disappearing from communities at this rate. It’s just not acceptable.” How quickly are ‘indies’ closing and why? When taking openings of new clinics into consideration, the number of brick-and-mortar independent clinics has dropped by 35% since 2012, from 510 in 2012 to 333 in 2022, according to the report. While there are several reasons for the closures, the report says “overturning of Roe v. Wade was the clearest and most immediate.” Plus, “Indies lack the institutional support, visibility, name recognition, or fundraising capacity of national health centers and hospitals, making it especially difficult for them to secure the resources needed to keep their doors open,” according to the report. The report detailed multiple reasons highlighting the importance of “indies,” including: Independent providers “operate the majority of abortion clinics in the states that are most politically hostile to abortion access.” Before the Roe v. Wade was overturned, 119 indies were located in states the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that supports abortion rights, classified as “politically hostile to abortion access,” while 88 Planned Parenthood locations were located in these states. After the Supreme Court decision, 80 indies were located in these states compared to 55 Planned Parenthood locations, as of Nov. 1 analysis. Indies also often provide broader sexual and reproductive health services to “patients with the fewest resources,” the report said. After Roe was struck down, indies now make up 62% of U.S. clinics that provide abortions after the first trimester of pregnancy. Most abortions happen in the first trimester.
Here’s How States Plan to Limit Abortion — Even Where It Is Already Banned
The 19th, December 5, 2022
As statehouses across the country prepare for next year’s legislative sessions — most for the first time since Roe v. Wade was overturned — Republican lawmakers are pushing for further restrictions on reproductive health, even in states where abortion is already banned. But fissures are already emerging. Now, anti-abortion lawmakers must decide if they will push new abortion bans — a subject of debate among some abortion opponents — if they will amend existing bans to allow for abortions in cases of rape or incest, or if they will move to other reproductive health issues such as contraception. Abortion opponents have struggled to agree on all of them, especially with total abortion bans proving unpopular among voters. “We will see this split in the Republican Party around following essentially their base, which wants to ban abortion without any exceptions, and the larger public,” said Elizabeth Nash, who tracks state policy for the Guttmacher Institute. Near-total abortion bans are in effect in 13 states, and others have limited access: In Georgia, the procedure is banned for people later than six weeks of pregnancy, and in Florida and Arizona, it is banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Bans in seven other states have been temporarily blocked but could take effect pending state court rulings. With Republicans controlling the U.S. House, federal abortion legislation — whether a ban or national protection — is unlikely to pass. State legislatures are the likeliest source of new abortion policy, and most work only part-time, meeting to consider bills for a few months either every year or every other year. The legislative year typically starts in January, but lawmakers are starting to prefile bills, offering a first glimpse into what they hope to accomplish next year. Watching the state lines: Two bills in Texas, one of the few states that has bills prefiled, show how legislation could prevent people from leaving the state to access abortion. Republican lawmakers have put forth a bill that would prohibit government entities from giving someone money that might be used to travel out of state for an abortion. Another bill would eliminate state tax breaks for businesses in the state that help cover their employees’ travel costs associated with getting an abortion outside of the state. Though no other states have similar bills yet, those could, if passed, offer a model for other states seeking to restrict abortion access further without directly banning interstate travel.
‘We’re Doubling Down’: How Advocates Are Building on Midterm Wins
The Guardian, December 7, 2022
Renee Bracey Sherman answers the phone and apologizes – is it OK if we speak while she drives? Like many abortion advocates, she tends to keep a packed schedule and talk at lightning speed – the next initiative, the next law, the next policy on the horizon. Ask advocates how they felt in June after the Dobbs decision sharply curtailed reproductive rights across the US, or in November after wins in the midterm elections signaled strong public support for abortion, and they’ll answer immediately: We knew this was coming; but the fight’s not over. What Bracey Sherman – founder and executive director of We Testify, a group focused on the leadership and representation of people who have abortions – and her colleagues in the pro-choice movement don’t spend much time doing is elaborating on the past, or how they mourned or celebrated, because it’s already in the rear-view window. Their eyes are laser-focused on the future. “We’re doubling down,” Bracey Sherman said. Abortion was a central issue in a midterm election that saw Democrats retain the Senate and relinquish only a narrow majority in the House. In Kentucky and Montana, voters rejected anti-abortion initiatives on the ballot; and in Michigan, California and Vermont, voters chose to establish reproductive rights in state law. Over the summer, Kansas voters similarly rejected a ballot measure to remove abortion rights from its constitution. “When abortion was on the ballot, it won, so that was fantastic,” said Elisa Wells, co-founder and co-director of Plan C, an organization that helps access abortion medication. Those wins “really demonstrate that legislators are out of touch with what the majority of Americans want. They support abortion access, and understand that it’s basic, common medical care.” So pro-choice advocates are taking the fight to new areas, principally access to abortion care, which is now heavily restricted in many places, and support for abortion seekers in states that have criminalized it. The focus is squarely on the states. For the next two years, with Congress divided, it’s understood that little will get done at the federal level. “The state level is probably where abortion rights advocates will need to work, and have had some success in the last year,” said Shana Kushner Gadarian, professor of political science at Syracuse University. Ballot initiatives were one of those real successes. It’s important for organizers “to get things directly in front of voters, because they seem to be winning on that side”, she said.
Biden’s Efforts to Protect Abortion Access Hit Roadblocks
AP News, December 6, 2022
The Biden administration is still actively searching for ways to safeguard abortion access for millions of women, even as it bumps up against a complex web of strict new state laws enacted in the months after the Supreme Court stripped the constitutional right. Looking to seize on momentum following a midterm election where voters widely rebuked tougher abortion restrictions, there’s a renewed push at the White House to find ways to help women in states that have virtually outlawed or limited the treatment, and to keep the issue top of mind for voters. In reality, though, the administration is shackled by a ban on federal funding for most abortions, a conservative-leaning Supreme Court inclined to rule against abortion rights and a split Congress unwilling to pass legislation on the matter. Meanwhile, frustration on the ground in the most abortion-restricted states is mounting. “This is not going away anytime soon,” said Jen Klein of the Biden administration’s Gender Policy Council. “Tens of millions of Americans are living under bans of various sorts, many of them quite extreme, and even in states where abortion is legal, we’re all seeing the impact on providers and on systems being loaded by people who are coming across state lines.” Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June, roughly half the states have some type of abortion restrictions in place, with at least 11 states essentially banning the procedure. Administration officials are meeting Tuesday and Wednesday with state lawmakers ahead of their 2023 sessions, including in states with more extreme bans on the table, and will discuss safeguarding rights and helping women access care as top issues. The meetings follow sit-downs with roughly nine governors, attorneys general and Democratic state legislators from more than 30 states. The administration, meanwhile, is implementing Biden’s executive orders signed in July and August that directed federal agencies to push back on abortion restrictions and protect women traveling out of their state to seek one, though some women’s rights advocates say it doesn’t go far enough. And there are still other avenues left for the administration to explore, said Kathleen Sebelius, a former U.S. health and human services secretary. HHS might look to wield its power around federal protections for health care providers, life-saving abortions, abortion pills and travel for women in abortion-restricted states, she said.
Millions of Families Face Fertility Challenges, a Bipartisan House Aims to Expand Access to Treatments
The 19th, December 1, 2022
A new bipartisan caucus in the U.S. House has launched to bring attention to fertility challenges faced by millions of Americans and take up a decades-long fight for expanded access to fertility treatments for military families, veterans and federal workers. The creation of the Family Building Caucus comes as the future of IVF in post-Roe America is uncertain, both because of the unintended consequences of strict abortion bans sponsored by Republicans and calls by some anti-abortion groups to put restrictions on the handling on embryos created via IVF. Groups that advocate for expanded access to and protections for reproductive medicine cheered the creation of the caucus and, in particular, its bipartisan nature. The caucus’ Democratic founder, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, said the caucus wants to decouple the issues of fertility treatments and abortion to find common ground in the GOP-controlled House in the next Congress. The caucus, which right now consists of founders Wasserman Schultz and Republican Rep. Billy Long of Missouri, will start with educating members about the ubiquitous nature of infertility, available treatments and hurdles. Wasserman Schultz and her husband struggled with infertility when she was in her late twenties, and through IVF, conceived and gave birth to twins. She said many families across the political spectrum have faced similar obstacles, and that she was confident that the caucus would attract “broad bipartisan” support. Wasserman Schultz pointed to former Vice President Mike Pence, a staunch opponent of abortion rights, who said in an interview last week that he believes in legal protections for fertility treatments. “I mean, you have people like Mike Pence, who have spoken recently about the importance of preserving access and developing fertility treatments,” Wasserman Schultz said in an interview. “And so I think there’s a way to separate it and not do so in a way that compromises our position on abortion rights,” she told The 19th. Pence spoke about fertility treatments with CBS News last week after the release of his book, “So Help Me God,” which includes new details about his wife’s IVF treatments. “I fully support fertility treatments and I think they deserve the protection of the law,” Pence said in a televised interview. “They gave us great comfort in those long and challenging years that we struggled with infertility in our marriage.”
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