NEWS: What we know about the Arizona abortion ban

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Repro Health Watch

What We Know About the Arizona Abortion Ban

The New York Times, April 10, 2024

Arizona’s highest court upheld an 1864 law that bans nearly all abortions, a decision that could have far-reaching consequences for women’s health care and election-year politics in a critical battleground state. But the law is not immediately in effect. The court put its ruling on hold for the moment, and sent the matter back to a lower court to hear additional arguments about the law’s constitutionality. Here’s what to know about the ruling, the law and its possible impact. What is the 1864 law? The law, which was on the books long before Arizona achieved statehood in 1912, outlaws abortion from the moment of conception, except when necessary to save the life of the mother, and it makes no exceptions for rape or incest. It bans all types of abortions, including medication abortions. Until now, abortion had been legal in Arizona through 15 weeks of pregnancy. Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade nearly two years ago, supporters and opponents of abortion rights in Arizona had been fighting in court over whether the 1864 law, which had sat dormant for decades, could be enforced, or whether it had been effectively neutered by decades of other state laws that regulate and restrict abortion. Doctors prosecuted under the law could face fines and prison terms of two to five years for providing, supplying or administering care to a pregnant woman. What does the ruling say? On April 9, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in a 4-to-2 decision that the pre-statehood law was “now enforceable.” The court said that because the federal right to abortion had been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022, there was no federal or state law preventing Arizona from enforcing the near-total ban. It noted that the State Legislature had not created a right to abortion when it passed the 15-week ban in 2022.

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‘A Crisis of Conscience’: Idaho OBGYNs Are Leaving the State After Strict Abortion Ban

The 19th, April 8, 2024

Idaho, already in a doctor shortage, is losing doctors who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. In a presentation at the Idaho State Capitol Building on Wednesday, Idaho medical leaders say the workforce shortage is exacerbated by doctors’ confusion about how to practice medicine under Idaho’s abortion ban that only allows abortion if it is needed for the mother’s life – not their health. And they pleaded with lawmakers for a health exception, which would allow a doctor to terminate a pregnancy to prevent significant harm to a patient, not just prevent their death. For example, if a patient’s water broke early and infection was setting in before a fetus was viable, a physician could treat the infection, which may involve terminating the pregnancy, without fear of prosecution. “Idaho is digging itself into a workforce hole that will take many years, if not decades, to fill. But before we can stabilize the environment and move forward, we have to stop digging. And we need more clarity in our laws to help with that,” said Susie Pouliot Keller, CEO of the Idaho Medical Association. If a provider is prosecuted under Idaho’s abortion law, they face two to five years in prison and could have their medical license suspended or revoked. Idaho also has a civil enforcement law, allowing doctors to be sued for at least $20,000 by any family members of a person who obtained an abortion. But legislation modifying Idaho’s abortion ban isn’t likely this year. The Idaho Legislature finished most of its business for the session on Wednesday and has recessed until April 10 to give itself time to address any potential vetoes Gov. Brad Little could issue.

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Why Anti-Abortion Advocates Are Reviving a 19th Century Sexual Purity Law

NPR, April 10, 2024

After months of questions about what abortion policies he supports, Donald Trump finally addressed the issue this week, first in a video Monday on social media, saying it’s up to states to decide their abortion laws. That statement left many of the biggest questions on his stance unanswered.On Wednesday Trump provided a bit more clarity, telling reporters he would not sign a federal abortion ban if one came to his desk, despite supporting one at 20 weeks during his first term. But he has yet to address the potential for the FDA to restrict abortion pills, which social conservatives argued for at the Supreme Court in March. And he did not talk about the Comstock Act, a 19th century law that some ardent abortion opponents want to use to restrict the practice.According to legal experts, Comstock could be used to stop virtually all abortion in the country, including in places it is currently legal. When NPR asked the Trump campaign about his position on Comstock, they declined to address it directly. Here’s what you need to know about the Comstock Act, and what the consequences would be if it is enforced the way some conservatives would like. The Comstock Act is an 1873 anti-obscenity law, named after anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock. The law, which is still on the books, calls for banning the mailing or shipping of “every obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile article, matter, thing, device, or substance.” In addition, it specifically outlaws mailing “every article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion.” The intent of the law was not expressly about abortion, according to Mary Ziegler, law professor at the University of California, Davis. Instead, it was about what Comstock and his contemporaries called “sexual purity.”

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Why the WNBA Wants More People to Know About the New Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pill

CNN, April 9, 2024

As the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the United States hits store shelves, the company behind the product, Perrigo, is taking steps to ensure women are aware of this new contraception option. It’s turning to the WNBA for help. Two notable brands in women’s history – Opill, which is the first-ever birth control pill available without a prescription in the US, and the WNBA – announced Tuesday that they are partnering to raise awareness around reproductive health and women’s health equity.“We’re thrilled to partner with Opill, a product that will really redefine contraception accessibility,” said Colie Edison, the chief growth officer for the WNBA. “We’ve been committed to addressing the issues that matter to our players, to our fans, to our communities, and we know that expanding access to reproductive health care is really of the utmost importance,” she said. “Our spotlight will be on civic engagement initiatives, as well as reproductive health advocacy.” The multi-year partnership involves civic engagement initiatives around how voting can influence reproductive health matters in underserved communities, informing the public about Opill as a new contraception option, and hosting educational events on college campuses in the fall, according to Perrigo and the WNBA. “With our partnership with the WNBA, we’re looking forward to meeting fans where they are with compelling Opill education and to share relevant stories about reproductive health,” said Leila Bahbah, US Women’s Health Brand Lead at Perrigo. She added that the partnership targets “anyone who can get pregnant” and is interested in learning more about their reproductive health as well as their options for contraception.

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The Terrifying Global Reach of the American Anti-Abortion Movement

Ms. Magazine, April 7, 2024

Because Editar Ochieng knew the three young men, she didn’t think twice when they beckoned her into a house in an isolated area near the Nairobi River. One was like a brother; the other two were her neighbors in the sprawling Kenyan slum of Kibera. Ochieng did not know the woman who performed her abortion. She and a friend scoured Nairobi until they found her, an untrained practitioner who worked in the secrecy of her home and charged a fraction of what a medical professional would. Mostly, what Ochieng remembers is the agony when this stranger inserted something into her vagina and “pierced” her womb. “It was really very painful. Really, really, really painful,” she told me. Afterward, Ochieng said, she cut up her mattress to use in place of sanitary pads, which she could not afford. She was 16 years old. As traumatic as her experience was, Ochieng was more fortunate than many women in Kenya, which bans most abortions. She, at least, survived. Like Ochieng, most Kenyan women facing unwanted pregnancies have no good choices. They live in a culture that gives women little agency over their bodies; they experience high levels of poverty – two-thirds of residents live on less than $3.20 a day – and they must contend with conflicts between abortion laws codified in the country’s 2010 Constitution and an older, harsher penal code that remains on the books. Because the penal code criminalizes abortion, relatively few women are able to obtain the procedure legally, and then only if a health professional determines that their life or health is in danger or, technically, if their pregnancy was the result of rape.

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