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NEWS: Abortions rose in most states this year, new data shows

by | Sep 7, 2023 | Repro Health Watch

Abortions Rose in Most States This Year, New Data Shows

The New York Times, September 7, 2023

Legal abortions most likely increased in the United States in the first six months of the year compared with 2020, an analysis of new estimates shows, as states with more permissive abortion laws absorbed patients traveling from those with bans and access to abortion pills via telemedicine continued to expand. New research from the Guttmacher Institute offers the latest view of legal abortions since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision last year upended access to abortion nationwide and allowed more than a dozen states to ban or restrict the procedure. The data suggests that thousands of women have crossed state lines to obtain an abortion, in the face of restrictions at home. It also indicates a rise in abortions among those living in states where the procedure is legal. “You have two forces at work,” said Caitlin Myers, an economist at Middlebury College, who reviewed the Guttmacher report. “On the one hand, you have people trapped in ban states, and, on the other, you have people in a whole lot of the country where access has improved.” Altogether, about 511,000 abortions were estimated to have occurred in areas where the procedure was legal in the first six months of 2023, a review of Guttmacher’s data shows, compared with about 465,000 abortions nationwide in a six-month period of 2020. Abortions rose in nearly every state where the procedure remains legal, but the change was most visible in states bordering those with total abortion bans. Many of these states loosened abortion laws, and providers opened new clinics to serve patients coming from elsewhere. In Illinois, for example, where abortion is legal, abortions rose an estimated 69 percent in 2023 compared with the same period in 2020, to about 45,000 from 26,000. Other states with restrictive neighbors, like Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and South Carolina, also had jumps in estimated counts of abortions. Arizona, Georgia and Indiana, by contrast, sought to restrict abortion, and all three states had drops in their estimates. Arizona and Georgia have gestational limits on the procedure, and Indiana recently enacted a total ban.

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Ohio Votes on Abortion Rights This Fall. Misinformation About the Proposal Is Already Spreading

ABC News, September 2, 2023

An effort to guarantee access to abortion rights in Ohio, a November ballot measure, is already fueling misleading claims about how it could influence abortion care, gender-related health care and parental consent in the state. The proposed constitutional amendment would give Ohioans the right to make their own reproductive decisions. Backers say that since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, the proposal would restore a commonsense abortion protection that most Ohio voters can support. But opponents argue it would do far more than that. Ads portray the amendment as a gateway to children getting abortions and gender-related surgeries without their parents’ consent. Opponents also have falsely suggested the amendment would open doors to protecting abusers and legalizing infanticide. The Associated Press spoke to numerous medical and legal experts, who explained what the amendment, known as Issue 1, would mean for Ohioans if it were to pass in November. If the amendment passes, Ohio can still restrict abortion beyond the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb. With modern medicine, that point, referred to as the point of viability, is typically about 23 weeks or 24 weeks into the pregnancy. Yet opponents of the measure argue that the proposal would still allow for abortions “up to birth” because it lets doctors decide when a fetus is viable or not, and because it has an exemption allowing later abortions to protect the life or the health of the mother. “They could have made it clear. They could have added weeks in there for viability,” said Mehek Cooke, a lawyer working with the opposition campaign, Protect Women Ohio. Independent medical and legal experts say this argument discounts that doctors have a duty to follow medical science. The original language from the amendment’s backers defined fetal viability as the fetus having “a significant likelihood of survival outside the uterus with reasonable measures.” “Obviously, it would be unprofessional for a doctor to say that a 9-month fetus had no possibility of survival outside the uterus unless there was some life-threatening birth defect,” said Dan Kobil, a constitutional law professor at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.

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Texas Abortion Policy Doesn’t Stay in Texas

Rewire News Group, September 7, 2023

Last week, the Washington Post reported about the newest line of political attacks on abortion access from anti-choice activists in Texas: roads and highways that connect abortion patients to potential out-of-state care. Proposed by the same group of extremists that brought Texas’ abortion bounty hunter law that functionally overturned Roe v. Wade well before the Dobbs decision was handed down, advocates have targeted towns and cities on major roads or connection points to try and shut down any ability to travel for abortion care via local ordinances. These ordinances make it illegal to transport anyone to get an abortion on roads within the city or county limits, and, like its predecessor Texas’ SB 8, allows any private citizen to sue an individual or organization they suspect of violating the ordinance. I mean, truly, what on Earth is going on here? It’s an alarming escalation, and it’s an important reminder that while a lot of media attention will be focused on the Republican presidential candidates and their various and terrible positions on a national abortion ban, the real folks who set abortion policy in this country are advancing the most radical positions one town at a time. And it feels almost like ancient history at this point, but it’s worth repeating again that the Supreme Court let Texas’ SB 8 take effect via the shadow docket. The result devastated abortion access in the entire region in addition to setting the stage for Roe’s reversal the following year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. What happens with abortion policy in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas. In fact, it informs abortion policy nationwide. So if Texas is seriously looking at ways to restrict the right to travel, as Idaho has already tried to do, then we can all be certain that the next constitutional right the conservative movement has its sights set on is the right to travel. The Texas news also shows how overturning Roe v. Wade is unraveling an entire host of other constitutional rights like the right to travel.

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Abortion-Ban States Pour Millions Into Pregnancy Centers With Little Medical Care

The 19th, August 29, 2023

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, Louisiana Republican state Sen. Beth Mizell looked for a way to address her state’s abysmal record on infant and maternal mortality, preterm births and low birth weight. Louisiana has one of the nation’s strictest abortion bans, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Mizell and her colleagues borrowed an idea from neighboring Mississippi: a state tax credit program that sends millions each year to nonprofit pregnancy resource centers, also called crisis pregnancy centers. They’re private anti-abortion organizations, often religiously affiliated, that typically offer free pregnancy tests, parenting classes and baby supplies. They are not usually staffed by doctors or nurses, though some offer limited ultrasounds or testing for sexually transmitted infections. “I see [pregnancy resource centers] as a touchpoint for pregnant women who may not know where to go for services or where to begin,” Mizell said. Louisiana has roughly 30 to 40 pregnancy resource centers scattered across the state. “If we don’t use everything with an open mind to give women the services they need, we’re only hurting women in our state.” Legislators in states with some of the strictest abortion bans are pouring millions into pregnancy resource centers, painting them as solutions to poor birth outcomes and the lack of access to adequate prenatal and postpartum care. But while Republican lawmakers have increasingly positioned pregnancy resource centers as a backstop for maternal health care, critics say those taxpayer dollars should be used to shore up more comprehensive medical and social services. Mizell’s bill, which was signed into law in June and went into effect August 1, allows both individuals and corporations to claim an income tax break for donations made to pregnancy resource centers, which the law calls “maternal wellness centers.” The tax credits are capped at $5 million per year. Mississippi passed a similar tax credit law last year and expanded its cap this year to $10 million annually. In 2017, Missouri became the first state to issue tax credits for donations to pregnancy resource centers and it recently removed its limit on how many tax credits the state can issue.

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Mexico Decriminalizes Abortion, Extending Latin American Trend of Widening Access to Procedure

Associated Press, September 6, 2023

Mexico’s Supreme Court threw out all federal criminal penalties for abortion Wednesday, ruling that national laws prohibiting the procedure are unconstitutional and violate women’s rights in a sweeping decision that extended Latin American’s trend of widening abortion access. The high court ordered that abortion be removed from the federal penal code. The ruling will require the federal public health service and all federal health institutions to offer abortion to anyone who requests it. “No woman or pregnant person, nor any health worker, will be able to be punished for abortion,” the Information Group for Chosen Reproduction, known by its Spanish initials GIRE, said in a statement. Some 20 Mexican states, however, still criminalize abortion. While judges in those states will have to abide by the court’s decision, further legal work will be required to remove all penalties. Celebration of the ruling soon spilled out onto social media. “Today is a day of victory and justice for Mexican women!” Mexico’s National Institute for Women wrote in a message on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. The government organization called the decision a “big step” toward gender equality. Sen. Olga Sánchez Cordero, a former Supreme Court justice, applauded the ruling, saying on X that it represented an advance toward “a more just society in which the rights of all are respected.” She called on Mexico’s Congress to pass legislation in response. But others in the highly religious country decried the decision. Irma Barrientos, director of the Civil Association for the Rights of the Conceived, said opponents will continue the fight against expanded abortion access. “We’re not going to stop,” Barrientos said. “Let’s remember what happened in the United States. After 40 years, the Supreme Court reversed its abortion decision, and we’re not going to stop until Mexico guarantees the right to life from the moment of conception.” The court said on X that “the legal system that criminalized abortion” in Mexican federal law was unconstitutional because it “violates the human rights of women and people with the ability to gestate.”

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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.