NEWS: Ohio vote shows abortion’s potency to reshape elections

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Repro Health Watch

Ohio Vote Shows Abortion’s Potency to Reshape Elections

The New York Times, August 9, 2023

Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a Republican, argued that Tuesday’s vote over how to amend the State Constitution was about protecting the state from a flood of special interest money. Secretary of State Frank LaRose, another Republican, urged voters to protect the “very foundational rules” of their constitution. But Ohio voters clearly didn’t buy it. About three million of them showed up for a vote dominated by the debate over abortion rights — an issue that was not technically on the ballot, but was the undeniable force that transformed what would have normally been a little-noticed election over an arcane legislative proposal into a national event. For decades, a majority of Americans supported some form of legalized abortion. But the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade has shifted the political intensity on the issue, reshaping a once mostly silent coalition of liberal, swing and moderate Republican voters into a political force. It’s a force Democrats are working hard to harness in elections across the country next year, often with ballot measures, and it’s a power Republicans have yet to figure out how to match, or at least manage. “We’ve taken it on the chin since Dobbs,” said Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life in Columbus, Ohio, who helped organize efforts supporting the proposal on Tuesday. “One of the things we learned was to get out in front and get out ahead and don’t wait because you’ll be run over by the train.” Officially, Ohio voters were being asked whether to make it harder to amend the State Constitution by raising the threshold to enact a new constitutional amendment from a simple majority to 60 percent and increase the requirements to get such initiatives on the ballot. In remarks before party activists and in strategy memos, Republican officials acknowledged that the measure was an attempt to make it harder for abortion rights supporters to pass a ballot measure scheduled for November that would add an amendment protecting abortion rights to the State Constitution. Those private comments fueled a firestorm of national media coverage, nearly $20 million in political spending and surprisingly high turnout for an election in the dead of summer.

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Texas Abortion Bans Are Back in Place After State Appeals Judge’s Order

NPR, August 5, 2023

The Texas attorney general’s office has filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court, effectively blocking a judge’s hours-old order that temporarily lifted a ban on emergency abortions. A day earlier, a Texas district judge had ruled in favor of a group of women and doctors who sued the state over medical exceptions in its abortion laws. The women argued that medical exceptions in the state’s abortion bans lack clarity, putting patients in danger during medically complicated pregnancies. The appeal blocks the judge’s ruling in favor of the patients and doctors, for now, kicking the decision to the all-Republican state Supreme Court. “Texas pro-life laws are in full effect,” the attorney general’s office said in a press release on Saturday. “This judge’s ruling is not.” In her ruling, Travis County District Judge Jessica Mangrum wrote that “uncertainty regarding the scope of the medical exception and the related threat of enforcement of Texas’s abortion bans” creates a risk that doctors “will have no choice but to bar or delay the provision of abortion care to pregnant persons in Texas for whom an abortion would prevent or alleviate a risk of death or risk to their health…for fear of liability under Texas’s abortion bans.” The judge had issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the laws from being enforced against health care professionals who provide abortions in emergency medical situations based on their “good faith judgment.” The decision followed an emotional hearing last month in which several women described struggling to navigate emergency medical decisions about pregnancies that doctors said endangered their health. The lawsuit on behalf of 13 patients and two doctors was filed earlier this year. The injunction had also applied to pregnancies with fatal fetal anomalies, which are not explicitly mentioned in Texas’s abortion bans. Samantha Casiano testified about her experience carrying a fetus with anencephaly — the brain and skull do not fully develop — to term. She gave birth to a daughter who lived four hours, and she described watching her daughter gasp for breath during tha short life and death.

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The Anti-Abortion Movement Is Fractured Over What it Wants From its First Post-Roe GOP Presidential Nominee

CNN, August 6, 2023

Bernie Hayes has spent most Mondays since the overturning of Roe v. Wade meeting with friends outside of an Iowa Planned Parenthood trying to stop abortions one at a time. He huddles monthly with other like-minded activists plotting more wholesale paths to halting the procedure. Lately, Hayes, an elder at Noelridge Park Church in Cedar Rapids, has observed more dissent among anti-abortion allies who once worked in harmony. Some see the fall of Roe as a one-time chance to ban abortion entirely while others are worried about the political consequences of pushing too hard too quickly. “Sadly, it becomes divisive to the point where we just get fractured,” Hayes said. “I can only imagine what the division looks like on a national scale.” Those divisions are spilling out into the 2024 Republican presidential primary, as leading anti-abortion organizations are offering candidates conflicting guidance on an issue that has galvanized the political right for half a century. Recent polling shows Republican voters aren’t providing candidates much more clarity. Lynda Bell, the president of Florida Right to Life, bristled at the suggestion that Republican candidates must back a federal abortion ban. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that talks about abortion and this issue should be decided by the states,” she said. But other leaders of anti-abortion groups want GOP candidates to be unflinching in their support for more hardline policies. “Anyone in the pro-life movement is looking very carefully at the current candidates that are running for president, and those who are not advocating strongly on this issue are going to be the ones that are not going to get the confidence and get the vote of the pro-life movement,” said Maggie DeWitte, the executive director of the Iowa anti-abortion group Pulse Life Advocates. Candidates are cautiously navigating the unclear expectations of conservative voters as they search for their first presidential nominee in a post-Roe America. Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the two highest-polling candidates for the GOP nomination, have routinely dodged questions on the trail about whether they would sign a national abortion ban and at how many weeks into a pregnancy they would support such federal legislation.

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Extreme Heat Could Impact the Effectiveness of Birth Control and Pregnancy Tests

The 19th, August 9, 2023

Extreme heat has already made pregnancy more dangerous. Now, it is also complicating efforts to control when and how someone becomes pregnant: Record heat waves across the country could threaten access to effective pregnancy tests, condoms and emergency contraception pills. All of these items can sustain serious damage in extreme heat, rendering them ineffective when used. And all have become critical resources for people living in states with abortion bans and who are trying to avoid pregnancy. In those states, few options exist to terminate an unintended pregnancy other than acquiring abortion pills online or traveling out of state for care. Many states that have banned abortion are experiencing broiling summers, including Texas, Louisiana, parts of Mississippi and Arkansas. Florida — where abortion is banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy and a six-week ban could take effect later this year — has also recorded unusually high temperatures. “People aren’t thinking about the effects of extremely hot heat for all kinds of medical care,” said Rachel Rebouché, dean at the Temple University School of Law, who studies reproductive health law. “And, specific to reproductive health care, people aren’t thinking about condoms and contraception and reproductive health as essential health care.” In some states that restrict or ban abortion, abortion funds — which typically aid people in paying for the procedure — have put more emphasis on distributing supplies to prevent pregnancy and to detect it early, even while noting that even the most effective contraception isn’t foolproof. Almost all of the supplies they ship are heat-sensitive. The Yellowhammer Fund, which serves people mostly in Alabama and Mississippi, mails emergency contraception to people in those two states as well as in parts of Florida. Jane’s Due Process, a Texas-based organization, has for the past three years given people kits including emergency contraception, pregnancy tests and condoms. The Lilith Fund, an abortion fund in Texas, recently began distributing “post-abortion” kits for people traveling out of state for care, which include pregnancy tests, condoms and thermometers. Pregnancy tests generally should be stored at a temperature between 36 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Republican Senator Will ‘Burn the Military Down’ Over Abortion Policy, Says Democrat

The Guardian, August 8, 2023

The Alabama Republican senator Tommy Tuberville is “prepared to burn the military down” with his block on promotions in protest of Pentagon policy on abortion, the Connecticut Democratic senator Chris Murphy said. “I think everybody’s been hoping that Senator Tuberville would back down,” Murphy told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. “And I think we have to come to the conclusion that that is not happening and that he is prepared to burn the military down. “Maybe Republicans were hopeful that leading up to the August break he would relent. He didn’t, and we now have to adjust our strategy.” Last year, the conservative-dominated US supreme court removed the federal right to abortion. Since February, Tuberville has been protesting Pentagon policy that allows service members to travel for abortion care if their state does not provide it. His method is to place a hold on all promotions to senior ranks that are subject to Senate confirmation, usually a pro forma process carried out with unanimous consent. Senior military leadership is increasingly severely affected, the US Marine Corps and US army without permanent leaders and the joint chiefs of staff facing a similar predicament when the current chair, Gen Mark Milley, steps down next month. Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina now running for the Republican presidential nomination, also said Tuberville should back down. “We do not have a chief of staff of the army for a first time in 200 years,” Haley told the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “More than 300 vacancies. It’s a mess.” Haley said Hewitt should call Tuberville “and ask him to stop screwing up the military, because we’re on the brink of a conflict with China and we cannot have this”. Joe Biden has called for Tuberville to step down. So have hundreds of military spouses. Tuberville has refused. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, has said he does not support Tuberville’s protest but has not moved to stop it. Senate rules give individuals the ability to hold up proceedings. Furthermore, Tuberville retains support among his own party, in both chambers of Congress.

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