The representation gap – even more significant for women of color – poses a huge barrier to ensuring policies that support state-level abortion access WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 28, 2023 – In a newly released report, Democracy & Abortion...
NEWS: Abortion rights are on the ballot in Ohio this Election Day
Abortion Rights Are on the Ballot in Ohio This Election Day
ABC News, November 1, 2023
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, supporters of abortion rights came out on top in every statewide ballot measure on abortion. And even in races where abortion was only implicitly on the ballot, abortion rights generally won out. This year, abortion is literally on the ballot once again, and this time, all eyes are on Ohio. So far in 2023, we have less data on how voters are feeling about abortion more than a year removed from the Dobbs decision. The closest thing to a vote on abortion rights was an August ballot measure in the Buckeye State that technically dealt with requirements for passing constitutional amendments but was popularly framed as a battle over abortion. Supporters of abortion rights won that fight, but that was far from the main act — rather, it was preparation for a Nov. 7 ballot measure that could enshrine abortion rights into Ohio’s Constitution. Polling indicates that Ohio voters generally support abortion rights. But that doesn’t mean the proposed constitutional amendment is guaranteed to pass. The messaging war leading up to next week’s election has complicated the question, with opponents framing it as “too extreme.” Currently, abortion is permitted in Ohio through the first 21 weeks of pregnancy. But that’s only because the courts have temporarily blocked the state’s six-week abortion ban, which briefly went into effect when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and would effectively ban almost all abortions in the state. If it passes, next week’s ballot measure would obviate that ban, protecting the right to abortion up through fetal viability — or about 24 weeks of pregnancy — as well as medical providers who perform abortions. You might remember that Ohio held an election on something called “Issue 1” in August. But that was a different Issue 1 from the one on the ballot next week. In Ohio, proposed constitutional amendments approved for a statewide vote are listed as “issues,” as are referenda on laws signed by the governor. “Issue 1” is simply a moniker describing the issue up for a vote.
A New Abortion Study Is a Stunning Indictment of Dobbs’ Consequences
MSNBC, October 26, 2023
A study released this week confirmed a surprising fact: The national abortion rate has risen slightly in the year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The study, released by WeCount, a project of the Society of Family Planning, relied on data from more than 80% of the nation’s providers, along with historical trends and state data. The report matches earlier findings released last month by the Guttmacher Institute, which likewise found abortions had remained steady or even increased since Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. With abortion rates not decreasing, opponents will pursue increasingly complex and constitutionally dubious ways to shut down access in and travel to progressive states. The outcome of this ratcheting up of penalties will be just as predictable. While criminalization makes pregnancy far more dangerous, it is ineffective because it fails to address the reasons one would consider abortion in the first place. That two separate studies have found similar trends is all the more remarkable because it has always been difficult to get a full picture of abortion in the United States. For decades, as anti-abortion advocates battled to overturn Roe, data was weaponized. Conservative states passed laws requiring clinics to record information about any post-abortion complications, the timing of the procedure, and the reason a patient chose to terminate a pregnancy. This information, in turn, was sometimes used to make the case against legal abortion. The threat that data would be politicized at the federal level led to California’s decision not to share abortion data with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And patients’ fear of stigma or exposure meant that research from Guttmacher, the CDC and WeCount relies on providers rather than patients in gathering data. Provider data misses a significant number of self-managed abortions: Researchers estimate that since Dobbs there were 5,000 more monthly requests for abortion pills from the largest international provider alone. Studies that rely on women and other pregnant people to self-report abortion experiences, by contrast, have always been notorious for underreporting. And that was before Dobbs.
Virginia Voters Care About Abortion Access. Will That Drive Their Votes?
The 19th, October 27, 2023
Door-knocking in this rural neighborhood 30 miles south of Richmond, state House candidate Kim Pope Adams encounters a voter who wastes no time getting to the point. “I’m not voting for you. I can’t — you’re a little too liberal for me actually,” the voter, U.J. Severin, 61, said, listing out concerns about public safety and stewardship of public dollars. But, Severin said, she also isn’t voting for Adams’ opponent, Republican Kim Taylor, “because of her abortion stance.”…Heading into 2024, voters in this state will send a powerful message to the nation about the potency of abortion as a political issue — testing Democrats’ strategy to center abortion and the prospect of tightened restrictions as their primary motivator in an election where abortion isn’t directly on the ballot. It’s also a test of whether voters support — or at least aren’t motivated against — a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which Republican candidates in Virginia led by Gov. Glenn Youngkin have openly embraced as “common sense” policy. If Republicans flip control of the state Senate and hold control of the state House in the November 7 election, Youngkin will have a clear path to further restrict abortion in the South. Control of each chamber will come down to just a handful of districts, including Adams’, which flipped red in 2021 by just over 500 votes. “The reaction I’ve heard on doors is that there is no compromise when it comes to a woman’s right to make your own reproductive health care decisions,” said Adams in an interview. Her opponent, Taylor, has declined to say whether she supports Youngkin’s plan, but she celebrated the overturning of Roe v. Wade and voted in favor of a fetal personhood bill in the legislature last year. The prospect of abortion restrictions after the fall of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 helped drive Democratic victories that year, and Democrats in Virginia expect the issue to continue to motivate voters in a state where 73 percent of all voters and 70 percent of independent voters believe abortion laws should stay as they are or become less strict.
Kansas Cannot Enforce Abortion Pill Law or Impose 24-Hour Wait, Judge Rules
The Guardian, October 31, 2023
Kansas cannot enforce laws that would force abortion patients to wait 24 hours for the procedure or be given anti-abortion talking points, a judge ruled on Monday. The move comes months after Kansans overwhelmingly voted to protect abortion rights in the state’s constitution. Judge K Christopher Jayaram’s preliminary injunction will freeze a host of abortion restrictions. Some of the restrictions date back to the 1990s, such as a law that requires abortion patients to wait 24 hours between an initial consultation and their procedure. Others were passed as recently as this year, such as a law that would have required abortion providers to indicate to patients that their pill-induced abortion could be “reversed” – a claim that is not backed up by science. The suspended abortion restrictions probably not only infringe on patients’ constitutional right to bodily autonomy guaranteed by the Kansas state constitution, Jayaram said, but they probably violate abortion providers’ free speech rights. “The Court has great respect for the deeply held beliefs on either side of this contentious issue,” Jayaram wrote in a 92-page order. “Nevertheless, the State’s capacity to legislate pursuant to its own moral scruples is necessarily curbed by the Kansas Constitution and its Bill of Rights. The State may pick a side and viewpoint, but in doing so, it may not trespass upon the natural inalienable rights of the people.” The Johnson county district judge’s order is set to last until a trial in the case, which is scheduled for 2024. Last year, Kansas became the first state to vote on abortion after the fall of Roe v. Wade. Usually a reliably red state, Kansas stunned the nation when abortion rights supporters won a landslide victory to keep abortion rights in the state constitution. The Monday ruling further highlights the importance of state constitutions in the post-Roe battle over abortion. Now that the US constitution no longer contains the right to an abortion, abortion rights supporters have sought to embed or defend abortion rights in states’ constitutions.
Anti-Abortion Centers Are Weaponizing a Law That’s Supposed to Safeguard Abortion Clinics
Rewire News Group, October 24, 2023
An anti-abortion center in Western New York is suing two as-yet unidentified people who firebombed the facility last year, as well as two other pro-abortion activists who spray painted “liar” on the wall, under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. Though it was designed to protect abortion clinics, the FACE Act is a real exercise in both-sidesism: It applies the same protections to churches, which already had special protections under federal law. It is also broad enough to apply to any “reproductive health” facility. As I reported a few months ago, the Department of Justice has recently levied criminal charges against several people accused of vandalizing anti-abortion centers, in some cases using the FACE Act. The law has both civil and criminal enforcement mechanisms. The federal government can use both, and clinics, workers, and patients can also bring civil actions—but that doesn’t happen very often. Some legal experts have told me they think it’s good for the federal government to apply FACE to vandalisms of anti-abortion centers. They argue it makes the law stronger if the federal government can show they’re applying it equally. In fact, conservatives have a history of complaining about “unequal” enforcement of the FACE Act. But the federal government isn’t bringing charges in this case—it’s a civil action brought by an anti-abortion center. Anti-abortion groups have stated their intention to get rid of the FACE Act. This is undoubtedly part of a plan to either invalidate the FACE Act or use it to make pro-abortion activists’ lives miserable. The reason we don’t see a lot of civil FACE Act actions filed by abortion clinics is because lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming. Abortion clinics can’t afford that while they struggle just to stay open. But if there’s one thing anti-abortion centers have, it’s money. In a recent exclusive investigation, I revealed that anti-abortion centers are likely spending over $1 billion each year. We know very little about how that money is actually spent. However, many anti-abortion centers are sitting on more than enough money to bring lawsuits like this, so it could easily become a trend.
ICYMI: In Case You Missed It
Today marks 45 years of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act! The National Partnership was a proud leader on this historic bill and, as we celebrate this progress, we acknowledge that change still has to be made to make workplaces safe and fair for pregnant people. #PDA45 pic.twitter.com/GUtA9EhzG4— National Partnership (@NPWF) October 31, 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.