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Reproductive rights advocates continue the pushback against a state law banning abortion care after 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

The immersive pop-up was located at 230A Mulberry St in Manhattan for four days last week.

The No Choice Travel Agency that popped up in lower Manhattan over the weekend had all the trappings of a typical trip bureau, with one major caveat: Travelers were limited to three destinations.

OK, well, there were a few more stipulations: The travel would be state-mandated; the costs—emotional and financial—would be hefty; and, the traveler—you—would be more than 24 weeks pregnant, possibly carrying an unviable fetus.

This is the scenario a small but growing and more vocal group of pregnant people find themselves in each year due to New York state’s antiquated, unconstitutionalabortion law, which is regulated in the criminal code and restricts abortion care after 24 weeks with no exceptions. Those who find themselves in need of abortion services at or after that period can travel to one of the few states offering later abortion care—in this case Colorado, Maryland, or New Mexico. That’s if they have the financial means to do so. Otherwise, they’re forced to carry their pregnancy to term.

Most abortions occur in the first trimester. Only 1.3 percent of all abortions nationwide occur after 21 weeks, and there are myriad reasons for later abortions, as the pop-up travel agency showed. It was a wanted pregnancy in some cases, or the pregnant person wasn’t in a position to make an appointment before then in other cases. But as the pop-up demonstrated, all travelers got the same “deal” no matter their circumstance.

“A lot of people have come in and asked, ‘Well, how does Kavanaugh affect this issue and in New York?’” said Erika Christensen of Abort Mission, an advocacy project she created with her husband, Garin Marschall, aimed at disrupting traditional storytelling. “You know, our state law does not comply with Roe v. Wade right now. We have this hard cutoff at 24 weeks, with no exceptions.”

Under Roe v. Wade, abortions are permitted after viability of the fetus (approximately 24 weeks) if the pregnant person’s health is threatened. “So, [New York’s law] existed whether or not Kavanaugh was confirmed. But, with Kavanaugh now on the Court, we can be sure it’s not if Roe is overturned, but when.”

“So this issue is pressing, it is urgent, and we can’t just keep kicking this down the road. It’s past time” to overturn the law on the books.

Located on a bustling street in lower Manhattan, at the epicenter of designer shops, the No Choice Travel Agency resembled a high-end travel agency, with brochures and placards offering packages that meet no one’s budget. Once you passed a welcoming seating area, you start to notice something about this brightly colored storefront is a bit different. There are large posters breaking down the three “packages.” “Peak access” includes a last-minute flight to Denver, four nights in a mid-level hotel, a rental car trip to Boulder, and critical health care. The “high and dry” package goes to Albuquerque, New Mexico, but otherwise the deal is the same. The third option is a “highway robbery” package, which includes a grueling road trip down I-95, two motion sickness wristbands, four nights in an overpriced hotel, and critical health care in Bethesda, Maryland. Each package provides customer reviews, except the reviews are stories from New York women who sought an abortion outside their home state.

“In a way this is like a big fancy project to feature ten stories,” Christensen said. “That’s really the central mission that we had: to introduce people to the patients who are actually accessing later abortion care for a variety of reasons, many of which aren’t that different from the reasons people need abortions earlier in pregnancy.”

Christensen told Rewire.News on Sunday, the fourth and last day of the pop-up, that a mix of people had stopped by to see the project, some completely unaware of its purpose. “I think I’m most surprised and maybe, dare I say, slightly encouraged by the young men … in their 20s who come in expecting a travel pop up. They very quickly are like, ‘Whaaat?’ We explain it’s a reproductive rights advocacy project, and they start to read. They ask about the law, and then they’re like, ‘This is fucked up.’”

On the other hand, people who are against abortion have also stopped by. One woman in her 60s refused to come inside the store, but she did have a 20-minute conversation with Christensen, who personally has experience leaving the state for later abortion care. “It’s important for us to present the patient perspective,” Christensen told Rewire.News. “First and foremost, so people feel like they can actually have a real, practical understanding of why people need this care and why it is so critical that we provide it, and that we insist on everyone getting the care they need with no patient left behind.”

Christensen said it’s unlikely they will change the minds of those who oppose abortion rights. But if those who disagree with later abortion care “come over to these stories and read one or two lines, I believe then we’ve done our job. Then at least maybe there will be a voice in the back of their head that will not forget the patient who already has six kids and literally believes a seventh would kill her. Or the person who found out at 28 weeks that the fetus they were carrying had no brain. These are stories that, I would guess, a lot of people who think they don’t agree with us have never heard. Maybe they won’t take the time to fully understand the law. And maybe they won’t even vote on our side. But they will somewhere on some level take in these stories for the first time, and we think that’s important.”

For those more willing to engage in the dizzying experience, at the back of the pop-up was a booth inviting visitors to take action by contacting their state senator; reaching out to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D); telling everyone they know about the law to help fight stigma; donating to the Brigid Alliance, which helps abortion patients cover travel costs; and voting on November 6. The booth included a tablet where visitors could look up whether their state senator is a champ or chump on reproductive rights at ChoiceChamps.com.

“We have one chance to fix this issue and it happens on November 6,” Christensen said, referring to the midterm elections. The Reproductive Health Act (RHA) is one legislative fix to the antiquated abortion law, but it’s failed to gain support in the New York legislature, “because without a pro-choice majority in the state senate, we can’t even get the Reproductive Health Act to the floor for a vote.”

Christensen and Marschall, who had to travel to Colorado to end a nonviable pregnancy at 32 weeks, have advocated for the passage of the RHA through the RHAvote campaign.

“People often don’t even know who their state senator is, never mind that they have so much power and effect on our everyday lives. So it’s kind of a two-pronged education initiative here at the travel agency that we’re trying to do. Present the problem—show how it affects real people, make the connection to law—and then, most importantly, how we fix it,” said Christensen.

That fix includes taking a hard look at self-described pro-choice state senators who are not showing up for their constituents. “The best example of that that I can think of is New York’s Susan Collins, Elaine Phillips, out on Long Island. She is a pro-choice Republican who voted against the RHA [when Democrats tried to attach it to other bills] and when the CCCA [Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act] came up she went for a convenient bathroom break,” Christensen said. “She can wear her pink scarf all she wants, but when she had the chance, she deserted the women of New York state.”

The RHA passed in the New York Assembly this year, but failed in the state senate, where a group of conservative Democrats caucus with Republicans.

Mobilizing registered Democrats is a critical strategy, considering registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in her district, but they didn’t show up in 2016, according to Christensen. “A lot of it is disenfranchisement. These are communities of color, where [some legislators] make it as hard as possible to vote.“ Christensen is working alongside advocates to get out the vote in those districts.

The next two weeks are vital. They also offer a bit of hope for turning the tide.

“And I just cannot stress enough: This is our chance. We don’t get another chance for two years. So it’s just really important that we’re all hands on deck between now and November 6.”

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/10/15/no-choice-pop-up-travel-agency-brings-attention-to-antiquated-new-york-abortion-law/

Onerous anti-abortion laws are designed to make abortion inaccessible — and by design they harm poor women and marginalized populations the most.

END FORCED MOTHERHOOD is a column focusing on the ways in which anti-abortion activists use pseudoscience and thinly veiled religious justifications to attack the bodily autonomy of all people who can get pregnant.

Imagine that you’re a 24-year-old woman living in Lubbock County, Texas, and you’ve just discovered that you’re six weeks pregnant. You know you can’t afford to carry a pregnancy to term at this point in your life, so you decide to get an abortion. However, you make an hourly wage of $13.20—which is 82 percent of what your male counterpart earns—and you’re uninsured, without credit or savings. Like 60 percent of women seeking an abortion, you are also a young mother. The nearest abortion provider is 300 miles away (one way), and you’ll have to visit the clinic twice to comply with Texas’ 24-hour waiting period law.

The clinic tells you that your procedure will cost $600. This is in addition to the cost of gas ($42), hotel accommodations ($160), lost wages ($316), medication and maxi-pads ($50), and childcare ($200), which adds up to a total of $1,368—or 65 percent of your monthly income. Depending on your current financial situation, this may be an inconceivable expense for you, especially if you lack support from a partner or family members, you’ve recently had car trouble, your child is sick, or you’re experiencing any number of hardships that women in poverty face.

Abortion is subjected to much harsher restrictions than any other kind of legal medical care, despite being one of the safest surgical procedures in the world. It’s because of these restrictions that accessing abortion is becoming increasingly expensive; for obvious reasons, the rising cost disproportionately affects low-income women. Conservative legislators have enacted hundreds of medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers in the past decade—needlessly mandating that they be outfitted like a surgical center, for instance, or forcing them to enter into agreements with nearby hospitals. Laws like this have contributed to the closing of dozens of abortion clinics across the country—so much so that 87 percent of all US counties have no abortion provider, forcing women to travel incredibly long distances to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

The lack of providers also contributes to longer wait times for appointment availability, pushing some women past the legal time limit to obtain the procedure in their state. Twenty-seven states also require women to receive counseling, then wait a certain amount of time—between 24 and 72 hours—before getting an abortion. Fourteen require patients to get this counseling in-person, meaning they must make the trip to the clinic twice. This has the potential to increase travel costs by hundreds of dollars, or to necessitate an overnight stay, depending on your zip code.

Eighty percent of those in Congress are men, with a median net worth of $1,008,767. The women in their lives will be able to terminate their pregnancies no matter how dire things are for the average American.

Perhaps the most flagrant offense against low-income women is the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, which prohibits Medicaid from being used to pay for abortion services, making it prohibitively difficult for the 6.5 million American women who obtain health care through Medicaid to get a safe and legal abortion. This legislation is particularly cruel, given that 75 percent of abortion patients are poor or low-income. And it’s especially harmful to women of color, who disproportionately rely on Medicaid for coverage. (According to Planned Parenthood, 30 percent of Black women and 24 percent of Hispanic women are enrolled in Medicaid, compared with just 14 percent of white women.)

These anti-choice laws result in unequal access, create unnecessary hardships, and place women at risk by delaying their medical treatment. Copious research had found that restrictions around abortion access are totally ineffective at reducing abortion; instead, they put women’s health, safety, and wellbeing at risk. That’s because abortion is already extremely safe when performed in the right setting, with complications occurring in less than one percent of procedures. Delaying abortion care, conversely, increases major complications, costs, and emotional distress.

The entire system creates a vicious cycle of poverty. That’s because women’s socioeconomic success is intrinsically tied to their reproductive lives. In fact, forcing women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term quadruples their odds of living below the federal poverty line, and laws that restrict abortion access have proven to deteriorate economic outcomes for women. Family planning is key to achieving life goals, and unwanted pregnancies can prevent women from obtaining an education, fulfilling their career aspirations, and reaching financial self-sufficiency. The situation is exacerbated by America’s shameful lack of paid maternity leave, childcare subsidies, and flexible work hours.

Not only does this negatively impact access to opportunity for mothers, it also affects the health and wellbeing of unplanned children born into economically unstable families without the support and resources of many of their peers. While the government adamantly promotes forced motherhood through strategically attempting to defund family planning resources like Planned Parenthood, they are simultaneously unwilling to invest in programs such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to help those same mothers and children succeed.

Anti-choice measures are not only harmful to individual women and families: Our economy suffers as a result of them as well. Endless studies have shown that women’s workforce participation fuels economic growth, and exclusion stifles the national economy. Female economic empowerment is critical to national prosperity, with the possibility of boosting the US economy by $4.3 trillion in just 10 years if we could manage full gender equality in the workplace. We will never see these economic gains if we continue to restrict access to family planning resources.

How is it possible that the fictitious crusade to save “unborn lives” has been deemed more important than the health and wellbeing of families, opportunities for social mobility, and a robust national economy? Aren’t these the things Republican lawmakers say they support? Perhaps it’s difficult for legislators to understand the impact of anti-choice legislation because they simply do not represent the people. After all, 80 percent of those in Congress are men, with a median net worth of $1,008,767 and an insurance plan that subsidizes 72 percent of their premium costs. The women in their lives will be able to terminate their pregnancies no matter how dire things are for the average American. If the clinics around these wealthy women are forced to close down, they’ll be able to afford travel and hotel fees comfortably. If abortion is banned outright, they’ll leave the country for safe and legal procedures.

There’s no question that the system is rigged against low-income women. We have a corrupt, sexist, racist, classist government, filled with officials who hide behind exaggerated images of fetal remains to justify their abhorrent attacks on women and the impoverished. We live in an America where rich women have access to all of the resources they need to pursue their goals, achieve financial success, and support their families, while the rest of us—like the women from Lubbock County, Texas—are faced with insurmountable burdens. Forced motherhood is the epitome of class warfare, and we have no choice but to fight tooth and nail for control over our reproductive lives if we want to put an end to it.

Source: https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/9kgddp/restricting-abortion-access-is-class-warfare?utm_source=broadlyfbus

Abortion opponents see the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court as an opportunity to push for further abortion restrictions. Abortion supporters are preparing for a fight.

The end of the fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination sets up a new battleground over abortion rights, and activists on both sides of the issue are gearing up for what’s likely to be a series of contentious battles from the high court to state legislatures.

Planned Parenthood is unveiling a new strategy designed to prepare for the possibility of a nation without the federal protections for abortion rights outlined in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

In an exclusive interview with NPR, Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said the reproductive rights group is preparing to “super-size” its efforts to connect women with abortion services in what could become an increasingly difficult environment. Already, she said, women in many states with restrictive abortion laws have difficulty obtaining the procedure.

“Over the last years, obviously, there has been a great retraction of access for women in this country in many, many states,” Laguens said.

Abortion rights opponents have been working for decades to pass new restrictions at the state and national levels, with their eyes the ultimate prize: overturning Roe and other Supreme Court decisions that have affirmed the right to an abortion. Both sides see that possibility as far more likely with Justice Kavanaugh on the court. He replaced retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had often been the court’s swing vote on abortion and other controversial matters.

Life After Roe?

Planned Parenthood’s new strategy to fight back includes three major components: expanding access in states with laws favorable to reproductive rights; policy work aimed at strengthening reproductive rights; and efforts to reduce stigma surrounding abortion.

If Roe were overturned or substantially weakened, state legislatures would become the front lines of the fight. Officials at Planned Parenthood and other groups are preparing to lobby state lawmakers and other elected officials to strengthen protections for abortion and remove restrictions already on the books.

In states with more liberal laws, abortion rights advocates see an opportunity to shore up and expand access, with an eye toward serving women from other states. That could include expanding access to medicated abortion through telemedicine and using technology to inform women about how and where they can access services, Planned Parenthood officials said.

“Already women across this country have to access funding; they have to access transportation; they have to access housing; they have to access support networks,” Laguens said. “That is gonna be a greater need if there are further restrictions when Roe is attacked by this court.”

In Illinois, the organization has expanded its surgical abortion services from two to five locations over the past two years, said Dr. Amy Whitaker, medical director at Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

Whitaker said she already serves women from throughout the Midwest, and she expects to do that “on overdrive” if Roe is overturned and surrounding states pass increasingly restrictive laws.

“With Kavanaugh on the court we know that we’re gonna need an ironclad network of states and providers across the country where abortion will still be legal and accessible, no matter what happens on the Supreme Court,” Whitaker said.

Cultural influencers

As a final step, Planned Parenthood’s Vice President of Communications, Kevin Griffis, said the organization recently restructured its communications division to create a team focused on working with “cultural influencers” like television writers and producers to tell stories about abortion and reproductive health. The organization has been consulted on shows including CW’s Jane the Virgin, HBO’s Girls and Fox’s Glee,he said.

“[Stigma] truly is at the heart of the attacks that we’re seeing,” Griffis said. “And I think the key to reducing that is really being able to change people’s perception of abortion so that they see it for what it is — which is a really safe medical procedure and a typical, standard part of healthcare.”

Courts and statehouses

Abortion rights opponents also are preparing for the next phase of this fight, said Concerned Women for America CEO and President Penny Nance.

As soon as Kavanaugh was sworn in, Nance said, abortion rights opponents “were talking about, starting to get together and think about the best cases to move forward, to put in front of the court.”

Several states have passed abortion restrictions that are currently being litigated and could eventually come before the Supreme Court. Iowa, for example, passed one of the most restrictive laws earlier this year. That law, banning abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat could be detected, was blocked by a county judge before it could take effect.

Nance said abortion opponents also will be preparing to continue to push for new abortion restrictions at the state level.

“The state legislature for the past 10 years have been very fertile ground for moving the ball down the field on the issue of life,” Nance said. “And so we will continue those efforts, and I think we will continue to see success.”

But first, the mid-terms

While advocates on both sides of the abortion debate are looking ahead to legal battles in the coming months and legislative sessions next year, neither side is losing sight of another opportunity to rally each base — the mid-term elections, now less than a month away.

The abortion rights group NARAL is launching a $750,000 direct mail and digital ad campaign aimed at suburban female voters in eight cities. The group has also launched a $1 million ad campaign targeting Republican candidates and urging abortion rights supporters to “vote them out.” The group is running ads spring-boarding off Kavanaugh’s confirmation and warning that the Republican Party “harms and silences” women.

NARAL, the abortion rights group, has launched a series of digital ads urging abortion rights supporters to vote on the issue.

Fresh off their victory in the Kavanaugh fight, abortion opponents are also running mid-term get-out-the-vote campaigns.

Mallory Quigley, Vice President of Communications for the abortion opponent group Susan B. Anthony List, said her group’s primary focus now is on voter canvassing and other efforts leading up to the mid-term elections next month.

“The Kavanaugh confirmation battle kind of exemplified…why we’ve been engaging in Senate races across the country since last summer,” she said. “And that’s precisely because the Senate is where Supreme Court justices are confirmed.”

Source: https://www.npr.org/2018/10/10/656017613/with-kavanaugh-confirmed-both-sides-of-abortion-debate-gear-up-for-battle

From cops forcibly closing abortion clinics to “abortion tourism,” the country could change overnight.

hen he nominated far-right jurist Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Donald Trump took another step toward keeping one of the more shameless promises he made as a candidate. He may not have built his wall or drained the proverbial swamp—in fact, DC is dirtier than ever. But it’s starting to look like American women losing the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy isn’t a matter of if, but when. That’s because once Congress confirms Kavanaugh—which it is all but certain to do—pro-life crusaders will have a court that is more hostile to Roe v. Wade than any that preceded it.

In case you need a refresher, the 1973 ruling decreed, among other things, that a woman’s right to privacy under the 14th Amendment made any state law banning all abortions unconstitutional. If the decision were reversed, then states would again get to decide whether or not to allow women to terminate pregnancies in the abstract. And, depending on the scope of the ruling, some states might prohibit the procedure in every circumstance—even those involving rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother.

For obvious reasons, many millions of Americans are more than a little concerned about the prospect. One of them is Carol Sanger, a professor at Columbia University Law School and the author of About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in 21st Century America. We’ve spoken before, and as recently as last year, she told me SCOTUS would sooner back off its 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt—the ruling that clarified how states couldn’t place an undue burden on women seeking abortions—than go after Roe. Since then, of course, Trump has confirmed a far-right justice who is widely believed to be hostile to Roe in Neil Gorsuch, and nominated another in Kavanaugh. These days, Washington Post columnists are calling a full-on reversal of Roe an inevitability.

But how does a Supreme Court case like Roe getting overturned play out in practice? And what would happen in the minutes, hours, months, and even years after a Supreme Court intern ran across the plaza to deliver such a decision to the masses? To find out, I caught up with Sanger and some other experts who helped me game out the legal, social, and economic repercussions.

Step 1: The search for the right case
In order for pro-life activists to reverse Roe, they need to ensure an abortion-related case is actually argued before the Supreme Court. There are two particularly plausible ways for that to happen, according to Sanger. One has to do with so-called “dismemberment” abortions—which are banned in Mississippi and West Virginia—the legality of which is now being disputed in South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in Louisiana is currently deciding whether or not abortion doctors need to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Although those in favor say keeping a woman taking an abortion pill under a doctor’s watch is for her own good, those opposed say it would place an unnecessary and undue burden on people who want pregnancies terminated. (Making it difficult and expensive to obtain access to abortion under the guise of safety is a common pro-life tactic, though the Supreme Court ruled against a similar maneuver in the aforementioned 2016 case.)

If and when Kavanaugh is confirmed, he’ll join Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito as the fourth justice to believe the Constitution remains a set of fixed rules for America that cannot be re-interpreted despite the world being a rather different place in 2018 than it was in 1787. Meanwhile, “activist judges,” as conservatives like to call anyone who isn’t a strict originalist, believe (or at least aren’t repulsed by the idea that) the Constitution is a living-and-breathing document; the Court includes four such jurists in Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Finally, there’s Chief Justice John Roberts—undoubtedly a very conservative judge who ultimately represents a bit of a wildcard. On paper, he’s a practicing Catholic whose wife was previously involved in a pro-life feminist group, has been touted by conservatives as Originalist, was in the minority on Whole Women’s Health, and even signed a 1990 brief arguing that Roe was wrong.

But according to Sanger, the fate of abortion all comes down to where Roberts falls down on the hallowed principle of stare decisis, or the idea that precedents shouldn’t be overruled unless there’s an extremely good reason. One relevant precedent came from the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which SCOTUS said it wouldn’t be fair to overturn Roe, in part because an “entire generation” of women had come to rely on the idea of abortion being legal and had subsequently planned lives and careers around that fact.

“[Roberts] has some concern about if his court is gonna be the one that overturns Roe,” Sanger told me. “He could well say that while he might not have approved of Roe in the first place, in the 40 years since the decision was made, we’ve now had two generations of people who have grown up thinking that abortion is legal in America. And we’d really be pulling out the rug from under people if we flipped on that now.”

Step 2: Police close clinics, and abortion becomes a crime in at least four states
But if Roe is overturned, it will be up to each individual state to decide if they want to allow abortion, and when. There are nine states that have constitutional protections on the books right now meant to protect a woman’s right to choose in at least some cases, but there are also nine that never repealed their abortion bans after the Supreme Court rendered them obsolete. Others are in a kind of middle-ground, and still more have already actively anticipated the day there might be another landmark abortion case.

“Some of the states have said, ‘We want to be absolutely ready for a Roe reversal case, and we don’t want to have to wait for the legislature,'” Sanger told me. “And, surprise, surprise, the really nasty states have put laws into effect saying that the second Roe is reversed, a criminal statute springs into effect.”

These so-called trigger laws exist in Louisiana, Mississippi, and North and South Dakota. That means any clinic there would be shut down, one way or another, and fast. Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, told me how it would play out in each: For instance, the law in Louisiana says that the state will ban abortion if Roe is reversed in such a way as to allow states to ban abortion or if the US Constitution is amended to allow states to ban abortion. Things are much more straightforward in the other three. Mississippi will ban abortion (except when the woman’s life is at risk, or she was impregnated during a rape) ten days after the state attorney general certifies that Roe was overturned, while North Dakota would ban abortion (with exceptions for the mother’s life, as well as rape and incest cases) as soon as a state legislative council approved a recommendation from the state attorney general that the abortion ban was considered constitutional. Meanwhile, South Dakota would criminalize abortion (except for cases in which the mother’s life was at risk) the second states were allowed to do so.

“Both Mississippi and North Dakota have a step that requires some kind of government process to happen,” Nash told me. “The thing is, that given the current political environment in both states, I don’t think these certification steps will take very long.”

Still, it’s not all that likely that people in the middle of undergoing a procedure when the decision came down would be yanked out of the clinic’s office. One somewhat more plausible scenario to consider came in Tennessee, which implemented a mandatory waiting period for abortions in 2015—clinicians did have a brief window (about a month and a half) to adjust to the grim new reality.

Regardless, clinics in anti-abortion states would shutter one way or another, and in a country where the Supreme Court had just equated abortion with murder, everyone from local legislators to governors and mayors to cops to angry hordes of pro-life activists might feel emboldened.

“Technically, if they didn’t close, the police would come and close them down,” Sanger told me. “And I suspect some will actually not close in order to have that confrontation. If I was running a clinic, I’d say, ‘Come and close my doors, and let’s record this.'”

Step 3: Other states scramble to figure out what to do
States have different rules for when their legislatures might go into special sessions to put rules in place outside of regular schedules. In 15 of them, such a session can only be called by a governor, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But a court decision is often specified as one of the reasons where it would be appropriate to call people in after-hours, which means that some states would very likely go into special session right after Roe was overturned.

“I think you’ll see whole swaths of the country where abortion becomes illegal at least temporarily and women will have to travel across multiple states to get one,” said Gretchen Ely, social work professor at the University of Buffalo and an expert on abortion access.

However, support for Roe is at an all-time high, with about 71 percent of people opposing its reversal in the abstract, according to one recent poll. While abortion remains a hot-button topic that propels a lot of single-issue voters, the average non-evangelical Christian Republican living in Virginia might behave differently in the ballot box than they do on Facebook. If many such people were at odds with lawmakers, we could see the electoral map start to look very different, pretty quickly.

That might make it difficult for women to keep up with what’s legal where, but it would also potentially lead to some changes that progressives might like. “You would have a lot more interest in new and fresh candidates at the state legislative level,” Ely said. “We could see after the midterms some state level [legislatures] flip, even in places we don’t expect. And you will see a lot of involvement when people start showing up to facilities and getting turned away for services that they need.”

She compared what might happen in a red state’s local or statewide election after the reversal of Roe to the Alabama contest in which it took the Republican candidate Roy Moore being accused of child molestation for a Democrat to win the race.

“It’s unfortunate that Roe might have to get overturned to kind of galvanize this momentum, but the climate would be ripe for resistance,” Ely said.Step 4: Women leave the workforce, people have less sex, and crime goes up

Caitlin Knowles Myers, an economist at Middlebury College who studies the effects of reproductive policy, noted that many people in her field predict abortion would be ultimately be legal in 20 states if Roe were overturned. That leaves 30 where access would be significantly, if not completely, cut off.

In the longer term, various academic studies over the years have suggested, the rate of sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea could drop by as much as 26 percent, because the perceived (and actual) cost of abortion would increase, and people might be less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. On the other hand, tens of thousands of people would exist who might not have otherwise. Overall effects on population would likely remain relatively small, because many women would just travel to states like New York for healthcare. But if trends in the decades after Roe were any indication, the nation’s crime rate would probably go up.

Myers, who researches the social and economic effects of reproductive health policies, said liberalized access to abortion in the 70s reduced the fraction of women who gave birth before 19 by a third. But that doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to expect that, if that right were taken away, the reduction would be perfectly reversed. We might see more young mothers and shotgun weddings—especially among poor women and women of color unable to access the procedure elsewhere. But a whole lot has changed in the past four decades, including social mores, contraceptive and abortion technologies, and state policy environments. That said, Myers noted, it’s important to keep in mind that three quarters of women seeking abortions are poor or near-poor, and even modest increases in the amount of travel it takes to get an abortion would be cost prohibitive to them.

Meanwhile, many relatively affluent women would continue to find a way to access abortion—probably thanks in part to the rise of some shady industries.

For instance, before Roe, when abortion under most circumstances was only legal in four states, there were chartered trips that would take pregnant women from Detroit to Western New York. The flight, procedure, and a meal were all included in the $400 price tag. Although many more states would likely have some sort of legal abortion upon the reversal of Roe than in the 1970s—and the science and medicine have come a long way since then—it’s possible states like New York and California could become hubs for what can only be described as abortion tourism.

“That could happen,” Myers said. “It did happen.”

Ely, at the University of Buffalo, agreed that so-called entrepreneurs would be able to take advantage of an overturned Roe. She noted that before that decision, but when abortion was already legal in New York, the state had to set up hotlines to take calls from people traveling there. “They’d be taking in women from Pennsylvania, which is an iffy state on the border,” she told me. “Plus people who are coming from places where they can get a cheaper flight to New York than to other places where abortion might remain legal. It will be overwhelming to New York, especially if they don’t have enough time to prepare.”

With abortion clinics in liberal states clogged, another black market that could pop up after Roe would deal in abortion pills. Typically, people who want to miscarry take two drugs—Mifepristone, which causes contractions, and Misoprostol, which induces labor. The latter is also available over the counter in Mexico. “It’s not as effective as two-drug combo, but it’s pretty effective,” Myers said. “The question is to what extent is the government would crack down on this, and what are you getting. That’s always the concern with black-market drugs.”

The internet was not around in 1973, and the relative cost of airfare is certainly lower than it was pre- Roe. That said, it’s not as if you could look to those days as a fully reliable predictor of what would happen if abortion were no longer a right in America. If facilities in New York got clogged and online drug suppliers overwhelmed, the cost of abortion would be likely to increase. Given that upwards of 40 percent of Americans don’t have $400 in savings to cover for an emergency, that would put the cost of the procedure out of reach of a lot of people.

Really, the only thing that could be reliably predicted after the reversal of Roe is chaos.

“It’s unprecedented for a Western nation to regress in that manner,” Ely told me. “A lot of it is going would have to play out minute by minute, hour by hour.”

Source: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ywkzwm/what-would-happen-in-the-minutes-and-hours-after-the-supreme-court-overturned-roe-v-wade?utm_source=vicefbus

Anti-abortion campaigners tell the high court that safe zones breach their political freedom

Anti-abortion campaigners should be allowed to protest outside clinics, even if it harms the dignity of women entering the clinics or hurts their feelings, lawyers for anti-abortion protesters argued today.

On Tuesday the high court held a hearing into anti-abortion campaigners’ constitutional challenge against Tasmanian and Victorian laws prohibiting protests in “safe zones” outside abortion clinics.

Guy Reynolds, the counsel for the protesters, Kathleen Clubb and Graham Preston, argued for a radical expansion of the implied freedom of political communication to include a general right to protest in public places.

Reynolds began his case with criticism of Tasmania’s “eye-catching” safe zone law – which he said was a “straight up” ban on protest in relation to a particular topic – abortion – which is “often political in nature”.

Unlike the Victorian law – which prohibits communications that are “reasonably likely to cause stress or anxiety” – Reynolds said the Tasmanian law had “no tailoring towards any particular purpose” other than to ban anti-abortion views outside clinics.

Even the Victorian law would cover “just about any [speech] that is anti-abortion”, he said, with law-abiding citizens suffering a “chilling effect”.

Reynolds submitted safe zone laws breach the implied freedom of political communication because they ban conduct that would “not otherwise be unlawful”. Citing the great number of laws that already prohibit “besetting, harassing, obstructing and intimidating”, he argued the laws were not justified by public safety because their only incremental effect is to ban peaceful protests.

Justices Michelle Gordon and Virginia Bell posed that the purpose of the law was to preserve women’s dignity and prevent them being deterred from seeking medical services, with Bell citing women “in a vulnerable state” confronted with images of foetuses in varying states of development.

Reynolds replied this was “not a mischief that is established by evidence” and the law was not tailored to a ban on behaviour reasonably likely to affect access but rather was a ban on all protest.

Reynolds claimed that the effect of women delaying abortions was not “some form of grave physical harm” but rather the possibility of a “slightly worse result”, despite expert evidence from the Victorian case it could force women to get surgical abortions and later surgery is more complex.

Reynolds then claimed it was “difficult to say” and “not identified” by the Tasmanian government whether being deterred from seeking an abortion was itself a harm.

This earned an extraordinary rebuke from chief justice Susan Kiefel, who ordered him to “address the legal position” and not to adopt his clients’ personal ethical or moral position about deterring an abortion.

Reynolds submitted that “avoidance of psychiatric harm” is an important aim but “the avoidance of hurt feelings is not”, arguing that criticism and “the resultant loss of dignity” are “inherent in political speech”.

Reynolds compared anti-abortion views that may harm the dignity of women seeking abortion to “criticism of bankers” or “criticism of men by feminists” as “part and parcel” of political speech.

Kristen Walker, the solicitor general of Victoria, told the court the law was designed to tackle the “full spectrum” of behaviour that cause stress and anxiety – from “polite” statements directed at women’s personal medical decisions, to noisy protests featuring “images of dismembered foetuses” and “frightening false statements”, such as that abortion causes cancer.

Walker submitted that “on no view” is the law directed at the mere prevention of hurt feelings, arguing that women miss appointments and staff are often too afraid to go get a coffee because of persistent protest activity.

Earlier, Reynolds cited developing jurisprudence in Hong Kong about reasonable access to a highway to suggest that there is a general common law right to freedom of assembly and to use public places for protest.

Attempts to expand the Australian jurisprudence were given short shrift by Kiefel, who noted Australian law does not recognise a general right to communication of political matters, only an implied freedom that limits legislative power and is “not a personal right”. Reynolds conceded that his submission was “not the traditional view”.

Reynolds submitted that anti-abortion protests have “great communicative power” when held outside clinics that perform abortions, likening them to apartheid protests held at sporting events involving the South African national team.

The Victorian and Tasmanian governments have defended their laws on the basis it is legitimate to protect the safety, privacy and dignity of persons accessing lawful medical services, staff and others accessing abortion clinics.

Coalition governments in New South Wales, South Australia and the Commonwealth as well as Labor governments in Queensland and Western Australia have intervened in the case to defend safe zone laws.

The court adjourned on Tuesday afternoon. The cases are listed for two further days’ hearing.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/09/abortion-clinic-protests-should-be-allowed-even-if-womens-dignity-hurt-lawyer?CMP=soc_567

A city council member from Parkersburg City, W.Va., on Saturday celebrated Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court with a Facebook comment saying liberals “better get … [their] coathangers ready,” according to Newsweek.

Parkersburg City councilman and anti-abortion activist Eric Barber made the comment in response to Sen. Joe Manchin‘s (D-W.Va.) “yes” vote on Kavanaugh, which solidified Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the high court.

“Coat hangers” are typically invoked as a reference to highly dangerous back-alley abortions.

Kavanaugh’s nomination was surrounded by anxious speculation by abortion rights advocates who said he could be the determining vote in overturning the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the U.S.

Barber deleted the post but community members have continued to circulate a screenshot of it, Newsweek reported.

Barber’s fellow councilman Bob Mercer told local outlet Deep South Voice that he was not intentionally referencing self-induced abortions.

“When he was in Washington, D.C., this year the day Justice Kavanaugh was nominated, a lady threw a coat hanger at him and hit him in the face for being happy about it,” Mercer told Deep South Voice. “He admitted that he should have explained it instead of letting it sit there.”

Barber himself did not respond to Deep South Voice’s requests for comment.

“We on Council are kept to a higher standard,” Mercer said, according to the Deep South Voice. “Understand that this statement does not reflect the feelings [of others on the Council].”

Kavanaugh stated during his first set of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings that he understands “the importance of the precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a pivotal swing vote in his confirmation, said she believes he will not overturn Roe v. Wade based on private conversations she had with him.

Democrats have continued to raise concern about the future of abortion in the U.S., with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) on Sunday claiming future judicial and legislative decisions will nullify Roe v. Wade.

Source: https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/410471-west-virginia-councilman-responds-to-kavanaugh-confirmation-get-your

Confirmation likely to push America’s highest court to the right for a generation and give Republicans swing vote in ideologically charged legislation

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Saturday is widely expected to swing America’s highest court to the right for generation.

He was appointed in spite of accusations of sexual assault and amid questions over his impartiality, stoked further when he launched a blazing attack on Democrats questioning him.

Though he demurred during his confirmation hearings when asked how he would vote on controversial topics from abortion rights to impeachment he is expected to be a key swing vote for Republicans

Abortion rights (Roe v Wade)

The ruling which guaranteed women in all states access to abortion is under regular attack from conservative and religious groups. There are regular test cases brought to the Supreme Court which could be used to weaken or overturn the original ruling.

Mr Kavanaugh is likely to occupy the deciding vote in future cases and has said he sees previous judgements uphold these rights as “important precedent”. This was enough to reassure Republican senator Susan Collins, a deciding vote in his confirmation, to back Mr Kavanaugh.

However President Trump has repeatedly said he would appoint justices to overturn Roe v Wade and Mr Kavanaugh declined to say, during his hearings, what he would do if such a case came up.

In a 2017 opinion as a Washington DC circuit judge Mr Kavanaugh opposed a decision to allow a girl who was an undocumented minor in the government’s care to have an abortion, and may well support changes that increase red tape or delays in accessing treatment.

He has also opposed Obamacare principles which required religious organisations to provide contraception to employees, saying this infringed their religious liberties.

Gun control

Mr Kavanaugh may resist cases seeking to restrict or limit the “right to bear arms” set out in the second amendment.

He has opposed the District of Columbia’s ban on semi-automatic rifles. In a 2011 opinion he said the constitutional protections afforded to semiautomatic handguns should be logically extended to the high powered assault weapons and DC’s ban was unconstitutional.

Mr Kavanaugh was pressed on this objection during the Supreme Court nomination process and said that “semiautomatic rifles are widely possessed in the United States”.

“That seemed to fit common use in not being a dangerous and unusual weapon.”

Semi-automatic rifles, modified with a “bump stock” which allows the weapon to be continuously fired without releasing the trigger between shots, were used in the massacre of 59 people in Las Vegas in 2017.

Investigation into Russian collusion and impeachment

Another reason suggested for the president’s backing of Mr Kavanaugh is his belief in executive power. He wrote in a 2009 article in the Minnesota Law Review that Congress should consider a law “exempting” the sitting president from criminal prosecution and investigation.

However in the same argument he said that the impeachment process would still be available “if the president does something dastardly”.

President Trump has repeatedly called special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election a “rigged witch hunt”. Though it has so far not uncovered evidence against the president that might spark a move to impeachment.

Climate change and the environment

Mr Kavanaugh wrote in response to Obama-era rules to limit emissions by power plants that he recognises “the Earth is warming and humans are contributing” and said actions to tackle this are “laudable”.

However he has opposed the plans, and others by the Environmental Protection Agency seeking to limit emissions or other forms of pollution, when the body has acted without specific authorisation from Congress.

State surveillance and national security

Mr Kavanaugh has said the mass collection of US citizens’ phone records, exposed by former National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, did not fall foul of constitutional rules prohibiting search and seizure without a warrant.

He added that preventing terrorist attacks through the collection of phone numbers and call duration addresses a “critical national security need” that “outweighs the impact on privacy occasioned by this programme”.

Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/brett-kavanaugh-roe-wade-abortion-christine-ford-gun-control-trump-impeachment-environment-a8573186.html?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#Echobox=1538980510