NEWS: New Biden abortion rights push addresses both women and men

by | Aug 18, 2022 | Repro Health Watch


Exclusive: New Biden Abortion Rights Push Addresses Both Women and Men

Reuters, August 16, 2022

Cheered by a decisive win for abortion rights in a Kansas vote and eyeing November midterm elections, the White House is launching a push for abortion access that aims to influence men as well as women, sources with direct knowledge told Reuters. The Biden administration’s three-prong playbook leans on two specific federal statutes to target states that limit abortion, communicates to voters the impact on women, and accentuates how forced pregnancies negatively affect both women and men. […] NEW LITIGATION STRATEGY: The Biden administration plans to lean on two specific federal statutes, which predated the abortion ruling, to fight its legal challenges – the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) and FDA preemption under the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA), the sources said. EMTALA requires hospitals that accept Medicare funds to provide medical treatment to people that arrive with an emergency medical condition. That includes providing a woman an abortion if her life is in danger. This law is the backbone of the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the state of Idaho, but may be hard to enforce, some legal experts say. The FDA preemption argues states cannot ban an approved abortion drug because federal law preempts or overrides state law. More than 30 states have enacted legislation that restricts access to medication. Mini Timmaraju, president, NARAL Pro-Choice America, who also is working with the White House on the issue, said the litigation strategy is key. “It’s not just executive orders and policies, it’s (legal)enforcement,” she said. VOTING, RESEARCH AND MESSAGING: The White House plans to replicate the success in Kansas, said the sources. It is closely tracking similar ballot initiatives in California, Kentucky, Michigan, and Vermont and gubernatorial races like Michigan’s, where abortion has become a central issue, sources said. In Kansas, a team of the Democratic National Committee made about 30,000 phone calls and sent over 130,000 text messages to help turn out the vote. The White House is compiling research on the physical and mental harms women face if they’re denied access to abortion, as well as the economic impact that forced pregnancies can have on men, women and families.

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Abortion Clinics in Embattled States Face Another Challenge: Money

ABC, August 15, 2022

When Katie Quinonez, the executive director of an abortion clinic in West Virginia, saw the Supreme Court decision that overturned the federal guarantee of the right to an abortion, the first word she uttered was an obscenity. […] This is a financial reality many abortion clinics – which often provide key care in communities and already face tight finances – are now contending with as they decide how, or if, they can move forward. Abortions accounted for 40% of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia revenue, Quinonez said, adding that there would be no easy way to replace such a large a chunk of the clinic’s $1.6 million annual budget. (At least for now, the clinic can again provide abortions, since a lawsuit brought by the clinic days after the Dobbs decision has paused enforcement of the ban.) “Being unable to provide abortion care absolutely puts us in a precarious financial position,” Quinonez said. “Our ability to keep our doors open very much depends on revenue from the services we provide, as well as grants and donations.” The loss of a community clinic dramatically curtails reproductive health care access for women, especially low-income women, according to research. One in three low-income women depend on clinics – such as a health center, Planned Parenthood or a publicly funded clinic – to get contraception, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study released in 2019. Another study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health in 2019, found that greater travel distance for an abortion is associated with higher out-of-pocket costs, delayed care and negative mental health effects. Many abortion clinics now must choose between two costly options: stay open but stop providing abortions, or move to an abortion-friendly state, clinic officials and reproductive health organizations told ABC News. Remaining open but stopping the service altogether denies many clinics a key source of revenue from insurers or patients paying for the procedure, clinic staff said. Meanwhile, the choice to close and move means losing revenue from patients while facing front-end moving costs such as buying or leasing a building, relocating employees and transporting equipment, among other expenses, the clinic staff added.

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Abortion Funds Have Been Inundated with Donations and Volunteer Requests, but Some Are Still Struggling to Survive

Prism, August 17, 2022

In mid-July, Alison Dreith said she felt like she was going to have “a breakdown.” It’d been a few weeks since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, and the Midwest Access Coalition, where Dreith is director of strategic partnerships, was drowning in phone calls from people who needed help accessing abortion. Before June 24, Dreith, a crew of four staffers, and volunteers at the abortion fund assisted about 30 clients a week. As of July 15, they were serving over 200 calls. “We are at capacity every single day,” Dreith said. “We really pride ourselves in helping people access abortion and in knowing what the laws are, but everything is changing so rapidly we can’t really keep up. Right after the [Supreme Court] decision, we had to shut down our hotline number for the first time because we had hundreds of overnight messages to respond to.” The calls come in from far and wide, including Louisiana, where an ongoing legal battle has forced clinics to shut down and reopen several times to the great confusion of patients. Dreith relayed a story about a recent client from the southern tip of Arkansas, right at the Louisiana border. In the before times, she would have been able to access abortion care in nearby Shreveport, Louisiana. Not anymore. “This was around the time that they were going back to court in Louisiana, and I wasn’t willing to risk it with this client, who would have to endure a 24-hour waiting period only to maybe wake up the day-of her appointment in a state that just shut down abortion again. We had to send her to Kansas, which was about 10 hours away,” Dreith explained. Even before the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, people routinely had to travel for care, and abortion funds moved mountains to support patients in hostile states with anti-abortion laws. In post-Roe America, these groups have been inundated with funds and volunteer requests, but they are still experiencing demands and obstacles like never before. Some have even been forced to stop operations.

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Most Abortions Are Done at Home. Antiabortion Groups Are Taking Aim.

The Washington Post, August 14, 2022

Two top antiabortion groups have crafted and successfully lobbied for state legislation to ban or further restrict the predominant way pregnancies are ended in the United States – via drugs taken at home, often facilitated by a network of abortion rights groups. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, 14 states now ban or partially ban the use of those drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, which are used in more than half of all abortions. But the drugs remain widely available, with multiple groups working to help provide them even to women in states with abortion bans. Students for Life of America and National Right to Life Committee, which have played leading roles in crafting antiabortion laws, hope to change that with new legislation. The groups are pursuing a variety of tactics, from bills that would ban the abortion-inducing drugs altogether to others that would allow family members to sue medication providers or attempt to shut down the nonprofit groups that help women obtain and safely use the drugs. Their strategy reflects the reality that abortion access today looks vastly different from that of the pre-Roe world, one without easy access to abortion medications from out-of-state or overseas pharmacies. “We knew we couldn’t just go back to pre-Roe laws,” said James Bopp Jr., attorney for National Right to Life. “We knew new approaches were needed.” Both organizations have long opposed medication abortions, but Students for Life’s legislative efforts did not gain traction until 2021, when seven states passed bills modeled after legislation crafted by the group to create legal barriers to the medications. In some cases the laws also banned them from college health clinics. A new wave of these proposals are expected to be introduced – or reintroduced – in statehouses across the country when most legislatures reconvene in January. National Right to Life, meanwhile, released a “model law,” a week before the overturn of Roe v. Wade that seeks to outlaw a coalition of nonprofit groups that assist women with self-managed abortions.

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How Gender-Affirming Care May Be Impacted When Clinics that Offer Abortions Close

NPR, August 14, 2022

When someone set ablaze the only Planned Parenthood health clinic in Knoxville, Tenn., earlier this year, the center was immediately inundated with patients’ questions of what will happen to their care – but it wasn’t just about abortion services. “We were flooded with calls more from our gender-affirming hormone patients than from any other type of patient because we are a continuing source of care for gender-affirming patients,” Ashley Coffield, the chief executive officer of the Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, told NPR. “It was very upsetting and scary to them when we were suddenly gone.” When reproductive health clinics close, it’s not just access to abortions that are lost, but also an array of services – like birth control, sex education and gender-affirming treatments – that can disappear. And some of those services, like hormone replacement therapy, require patients to see their physician more regularly than typical patients visiting for abortion or birth control services, Coffield explains. That’s why she and other providers are particularly worried about how future clinic closures may impact transgender and nonbinary patients, who already face many barriers to health care. The threat of losing access also comes as some states ramp up legal efforts to restrict such care, particularly for transgender youth. Gender-affirming care includes medical, social and psychological support to help a person understand and appreciate their gender identity. That care could be helpful to anyone but is especially life-saving for transgender and nonbinary people. Dr. Bhavik Kumar, the medical director of primary and trans care at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, told NPR the community faces a crisis. “With trans care, this is not a drill,” he said. “As much as people are concerned about abortion care and access to abortion – which is very important – we should also be concerned about trans people and preserving their humanity and dignity.” Both gender-affirming treatments and abortions are essential but stigmatized health care, providers say.

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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.