Abortion access didn’t make the cut during Tuesday’s debate in Iowa among presidential candidates who have pledged to take radical steps to fight back against Republican attacks on reproductive health care.

The systematic rollback of reproductive rights on the state and federal level wasn’t mentioned during Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Iowa.
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Advocates Slam ‘Indefensible’ Omission of Abortion Rights at Iowa Debate

The systematic rollback of reproductive rights on the state and federal level wasn’t mentioned during Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Iowa, even as 8 in 10 likely Iowa caucusgoers call abortion rights “a must-have regardless of how they plan to participate,” according to CNN polling.

The 2020 presidential election comes a decade after Republicans swept to power in state legislatures, swiftly passing a raft of laws undercutting access to abortion care. Last year, Republican-held legislatures across the South and Midwest passed near-total abortion bans designed to challenge the precedent set in Roe v. Wade. Legislators in 32 states enacted 394 anti-choice laws from 2011 to 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, has stocked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with anti-choice activists who have dedicated their careers to ending legal abortion.

Still, abortion access didn’t make the cut during Tuesday’s debate among candidates who have pledged to take radical steps to fight back against Republican attacks on reproductive health care.

Jenny Lawson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes, said it was “indefensible” that abortion rights didn’t come up once during two hours of debate in a state that has seen Republicans pass a near-total ban on abortion.

“Iowans know better than anyone what it looks like for politicians to push their extreme agenda on people and their doctors,” she said in a statement, adding that Iowa lawmakers “have failed” their constituents. “At this critical juncture, the stakes for reproductive rights could not be higher. … We—and voters all across the country—demand better.”

The Democratic presidential debate in December only passingly addressed reproductive health care, drawing criticism from advocates. Candidates had a lengthy exchange about abortion access during the debate in June, answering questions with anti-choice framing and defending their reproductive health platforms.

“It’s not just about abortion—our lives, our bodies, our families, and our communities are literally on the line.”

Destiny Lopez, co-director of the All* Above All Action Fund

Destiny Lopez, co-director of the All* Above All Action Fund, a reproductive rights organization, said as the Democratic presidential field narrows, “it’s critical that voters know where candidates stand on issues of reproductive justice, which goes far beyond a promise to protect Roe v. Wade.”

“The stakes of this presidential election could not be higher for women of color,” Lopez told Rewire.News. “It’s not just about abortion—our lives, our bodies, our families, and our communities are literally on the line. It’s deeply disappointing that even as we face this stark reality, debate moderators failed to bring up any issues of reproductive health, rights, or justice at all.”

“Now more than ever, we need to hear from candidates on how they plan to overturn the Hyde Amendment and ensure fair wages, decent working conditions, and access to reproductive health care, including abortion, so that families can be healthy and live with dignity,” Lopez continued.

Networks that host presidential debates and moderators who ask the questions should treat abortion access as a top-line issue, said Mallory Schwarz, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, which last year almost became the first state post-Roe without a standalone abortion provider.

“Amidst ongoing attacks on access to abortion from Republican lawmakers across Missouri, Georgia, and Ohio, Democratic presidential candidates must use every opportunity to speak directly and boldly on their plans to protect the right to choose,” Schwarz said in a statement to Rewire.News.

“The reality is: Abortion is not a niche issue, but a top priority for voters in 2020. … Voters deserve to hear each candidate’s response on how they will defend this fundamental freedom, including the steps they’ll take to stop coordinated attacks on clinics that provide abortion, repeal the Hyde Amendment, and expand abortion access, particularly for those individuals disproportionately impacted by state restrictions, including communities of color.”

What Else We’re Reading 

The New York Times reported on the potential impact of impeachment hearings in the U.S. Senate that will force three Democratic candidates—Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)—off the campaign trail just weeks ahead of the February 3 Iowa caucuses. Recent FiveThirtyEight polling shows Sanders in second place in Iowa, Warren in fourth, and Klobuchar a distant fifth place.

Forty-two percent of Black voters between the ages of 18 and 34 are backing Sanders in the 2020 primary election, according to the Washington Post, making him the most popular candidate in that demographic. Former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, leads among Black voters between 35 and 49 years old and maintains a commanding lead among older Black voters.

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, the eighth richest person on Earth, will ask Silicon Valley billionaires for their support in the 2020 election, Recode reported. Bloomberg has drawn support from tech billionaire and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2020/01/17/at-iowa-debate-reproductive-rights-nowhere-to-be-found-campaign-week-in-review/

The anti-choice movement actively uses social media platforms to communicate and organize with its members. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook provide opportunities for movement leaders to test the effectiveness of anti-choice narratives before promoting their claims to a wide audience. As part of the NARAL research department, we monitor the public statements of major anti-choice organizations and individuals and track how these narratives evolve over time. Here are some of the most notable anti-choice narrative trends from this past quarter:

Tactic #1: Co-Opting Feminism

After a volatile summer of extreme anti-choice legislation sparked scrutiny and public outrage, anti-choice leaders increasingly attempted to co-opt feminist language to deflect further criticism. They frequently claimed (counterintuitively) that restricting reproductive freedom empowers women, that notable feminists from history were anti-choice (though their most common arguments have been repeatedly debunked), and that abortion access actually perpetuates gender inequality and oppression. Even the official theme of March for Life 2020, “Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman,” announced in October, followed this narrative.

This trend is a reversion to an old anti-choice messaging tactic that claims it’s possible to be “pro-woman” while working against women’s actual freedoms. It emphasizes a narrow definition of femininity, venerating women who occupy traditional gender roles while attacking or erasing women who make different decisions. It also relies heavily on disinformation.

Tactic #2: Working the Refs at Social Media Companies

Much like the broader conservative movement, anti-choice activists have found that aggressive and unrelenting accusations of liberal bias in media and on social media can push outlets to be overly deferential to their conservative critics — and even give them preferential treatment. In late 2019, anti-choice activists continued their long-term effort to work the refs at social media companies by frequently claiming that companies like Twitter and Facebook intentionally censor anti-choice content and promote pro-choice content. Their accusations typically revolved around instances where examples of anti-choice misinformation had been accurately fact-checked, or anti-choice content had been removed for other rule violations.

For example, this September, Live Action and SBA List condemned Facebook for removing a video of Lila Rose stating “abortion is never medically necessary,” after the claim was determined to be false by a third-party fact-checker. (NOTE: This claim constitutes medical disinformation, as determined by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.)They also activated conservative U.S. Senators to promote their claims of “censorship,” who addressed a critical open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to promote their claims of “censorship.”.

SBA List remains of the most vocal advocates for preferential treatment of conservatives online. Most recently, they called for Twitter to censor Planned Parenthood, NARAL, EMILY’s List, and other prominent pro-choice groups.

Tactic #3: Misleading the Public and Moving the Goal Posts

In early 2019, in the wake of Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court and in expectation of a future ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, anti-choice activists ramped up their attacks on reproductive freedoms, eventually embracing fact-free claims that pro-choice advocates support “infanticide” or murder babies after birth. Though murder was already unquestionably illegal, they spent much of the year promoting legislation proposed by Senator Ben Sasse that would interfere with patient care and could criminalize doctors while doing nothing to change laws against murder. Using New York State’s Reproductive Freedom Act⁠ — which ensures access to needed care throughout pregnancy when a woman’s health or life is endangered, or their pregnancy is not viable⁠ — anti-choice politicians and organizations launched a full-scale disinformation campaign.

On September 10th, House Republicans held an unofficial hearing to again elevate a version of Sasse’s proposal. Anti-choice leaders promoted the stunt with the #EndInfanticide hashtag, which briefly trended on Twitter, furthering the false narrative. This is the same false narrative Trump pushed in his 2019 State of the Union address.

Other instances of this ongoing disinformation campaign include claims that infanticide is not already illegal and needs to be banned, that Democrats are advocating for abortion “up until” and “even after birth,” and the persistent canard that the Democratic presidential candidates all support infanticide. These attempts to peddle disinformation also intentionally conflated abortion later in pregnancy with post-birth palliative care.

As the 2020 legislative session kicks off, we continue to see this dangerous disinformation spread through state bills being introduced in several states. However, we will continue to monitor whether anti-choice organizations will double-down or shy away from this false narrative. Interestingly, Live Action has increasingly distanced themselves from the language of “infanticide.” Since September 2019, neither Live Action nor Lila Rose have tweeted the phrase.

Tactic #4: A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing — Posing As A Civil Rights Movement

Beginning in October, several anti-choice organizations began working to subvert widespread public support for reproductive freedom by pushing claims that abortion, rather than anti-choice laws, is discriminatory. In particular, they framed abortion as “lethal discrimination.” This narrative echoes their past arguments that abortion is “discrimination in the womb.”

By the fall of 2019, major anti-choice organizations including Live Action and Susan B. Anthony List appears to have adopted the language of “lethal discrimination” in their campaign against reproductive freedom.

Tactic #5: I Know I Am, But What Are You?

Many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have stated their strong support of reproductive freedom for all Americans. Though 7 in 10 Americans support reproductive freedom, the anti-choice movement has chosen to disingenuously cast Democrats as extremists. And despite pro-choice candidates’ overwhelming success in the 2018 and 2019 elections, anti-choice activists continue to insist that a commitment to reproductive freedom from all the leading Democratic presidential candidates will cost them the general election.

In a primary rife with questions of “electability,” conservative outlets aim to portray reproductive freedom as a losing issue. Despite copious polling showing the popularity of policies to safeguard reproductive rights, anti-choice activists would like the public to believe that these stances are “out of touch” with most Americans’ views and will alienate a crucial voting block.

What’s Next?

Monitoring the evolution of anti-choice narratives on social media provides invaluable insight for the fight for reproductive freedom. Historically, the narratives formally adopted by influential anti-choice organizations and individuals begin on sites like Twitter and Facebook and filter down to the rest of their movement. The reproductive freedom movement’s capacity to combat anti-choice propaganda requires being prepared for the types of arguments that may come our way. As we approach a crucial election year, the importance of this research cannot be understated.

As news generation and consumption migrates from traditional outlets to tech platforms, the traditional gatekeepers who once flagged disinformation are noticeably absent. In 2020, it’s critical that we be even more vigilant in pushing back on emerging disinformation narratives that aim to attack our freedoms.

Source: https://medium.com/@NARAL/the-anti-choice-propaganda-playbook-five-tactics-to-look-out-for-in-2020-4a30b5e016aa

Imagini pentru The Desperate Trail to Safe-Haven Abortions in Colorado

When Amber Jones told her husband Matt that she was pregnant, he had a hard time containing his excitement. “He’s like telling the lady at the gas station in town immediately, you know,” she remembers. “[And] we haven’t told our parents yet.” Amber, who was 36 at the time, hadn’t been actively trying to have kids, although she and her husband hadn’t ruled out the possibility. If it happens, it happens, they thought.

In 2016, when it did happen, Amber was nervous, but that nervousness gave way to excitement as she made it through the first trimester. Once you get past that, everything’s fine, she’d been told. They began to prepare for their child-free days to come to a close. They’d have to stop taking in more dogs. No more manual labor helping her Dad on the family farm in Alabama, where Amber had been born and raised. A friend helped them remodel the bathroom, and Amber starting painting the baby’s room a soft, smoky blue-grey.

Amber couldn’t sleep before her 20-week prenatal appointment (it was actually closer to 21, since her doctor had been out of town), and was up doing the trim in the nursery that morning. At the appointment, the ultrasound technician was taking a long time, repeatedly leaving the room and coming back in. Something doesn’t look right, the doctor told them. The organs don’t look right. The heart doesn’t look right. Soon, they were sending Amber to a maternal fetal specialist.

About a week and a few tests later, they got the diagnosis: Trisomy 13, a rare genetic disorder involving multiple life-threatening abnormalities that is frequently described in medical literature as “incompatible with life.” Amber did her research. The prognosis was grim.

Medical research from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, a leader in research and screening for fetal anomalies, estimates that by 12 weeks gestation, around half of all pregnancies diagnosed with Trisomy 13 end in miscarriage. For those that make it through delivery, the median life expectancy is about a week, and only 10 percent survive beyond their first year, according to the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

Devastated by the diagnosis but decisive, Amber, at around 23 weeks into her pregnancy, started looking for places she could get an abortion. Similar to the other 43 states with gestational cutoffs for abortion, Alabama bans the procedure after 22 weeks. Their legal options looked slim. “It was just call after call after call explaining the situation over and over again, and just hitting a wall each time.”

Finally, Amber found a clinic in Florida, where the gestational limit is 24 weeks, a little later than most states in the region, which said it might be able to help. Rapidly approaching an invisible line that they had just learned existed, Amber and Matt were told they’d have to drive through the night if they wanted to make it to the clinic before the 24 week cutoff. It was a Thursday, and clinic workers pledged to stay open through the weekend for what would be a three-day procedure.

“So we’re like, holy shit. Ok. Let’s find somebody to come stay with the dogs, tell our parents what’s happening… we haven’t even told our parents,” she recalls. After driving through the night, “trying to hold it together,” she said, they finally reached the clinic.

There are multiple metrics by which doctors estimate gestational age. Judging by the length of the femur, Amber was about 15 weeks along. Judging by the size of the head, however, she was well past 24 weeks. The clinic staff’s hands were tied. Amber and Matt turned around and began the 12-hour drive home, devastated, enraged, and desperate.

When the only legal option she’d found for ending the pregnancy turned out to be a bust, Amber found the idea of waiting excruciating. “The assessments you start doing in your head… I’m thinking, okay, how long will it take me to miscarry?” she said. “Will I miscarry next week? I’ve got about 17 weeks left if I go full term. Am I going to have to be pregnant for 17 weeks just waiting?” Depression was setting in, she said. “At one point, I literally said to Matt, ‘You may have to throw me down the stairs,’” she told me, her voice serious.

There was so little time left that Amber kept making calls on the drive home from Florida. Finally, sitting in a Cracker Barrel parking lot, she found a clinic in Boulder, Colorado, one of a small handful of clinics in the country that offers abortions late into pregnancy, and thus attracts visitors to the state that are desperate for an abortion. So, they made an appointment, and borrowed cash from their parents to help pay for what would be a week-long procedure.

The story of Colorado’s abortion laws actually begins in Peru. In 1967, after becoming aware of the dire public health outcomes associated with illegal abortions while traveling in the country, Dick Lamm, a freshman Democrat in Colorado’s House of Representatives, introduced a bill to legalize abortion in limited cases. It was, by today’s standards, an incredibly conservative bill, allowing the procedure only in cases of rape or incest, if the woman’s physical or mental health was threatened, or if the child might have birth defects. Lamm saw the move as a long shot, and one that was likely to end his political career. It was still six years before the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion a constitutional right, but the bill managed to win strong bipartisan support and was signed into law.

That same year, Dr. Warren Hern had recently completed his medical degree, and like Lamm, was shocked after observing the high death rate associated with illegal abortion, both as a medical student in the states and while traveling abroad in Latin America. Hern tells Jezebel he sent a letter to Lamm after reading about Colorado’s new abortion law asking whether it was better for him to continue his path in public health or pursue a law degree, pointing to Lamm’s success on the issue. Lamm told him to stay in public health, and Hern took his advice.

After Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, Hern began working as an abortion provider in Colorado. Two years later, he opened his own practice, the Boulder Abortion Clinic. Hern’s clinic was met with immediate hostility from anti-abortion activists, but as abortion became increasingly politicized in the ’80s—when the political right aligned with the religious right—the hostility gave way to all-out violence. The clinic had bulletproof glass installed in 1988 after shots were fired through its windows, narrowly missing a staff member. Hern has seen his colleagues in the field assassinated, including Dr. George Tiller, and has survived threats on his own life throughout his career. Through it all, he kept practicing medicine.

Today, Hern specializes in performing abortions late into pregnancy, particularly for those who, like Amber, are seeking third-trimester abortions after experiencing complications. The Boulder Abortion Clinic is one of just four clinics in the country that publicly accept patients seeking later abortion care from anywhere in the world.

Because of this, Colorado has become something of a travel destination for people in increasingly desperate circumstances, a rare point of unobstructed access for people making decisions about their pregnancies, their families, and their lives. The Boulder Abortion Clinic often sees patients from other countries—gestational limits on abortion vary significantly across the globe, but places where abortion laws are as liberal as Colorado’s are scarce. While many states have rushed to restrict abortion over the last decade, Colorado has very few restrictions on abortion, and is one of just seven states that don’t have gestational cutoffs. Over 400 state laws restricting abortion were passed between 2011 and 2017, from mandatory waiting periods to strict regulations on clinics that caused many to close down. Besides New Mexico, its neighbor to the south, Colorado is surrounded on all sides by states where abortion laws are restrictive and abortion providers are scarce. Together, Colorado and New Mexico form an island in a sea of hostility toward abortion.

That might change soon: This year, anti-abortion activists in Colorado have begun pushing a ballot initiative to ban abortion after 22 weeks, except in cases of life endangerment, posing a grave threat to Colorado’s status as a reproductive health safe haven and access to later abortion care worldwide.

Hern said the initiative to ban abortion after 22 weeks would be a “catastrophe” for patients with fetal abnormalities that often aren’t detected until late in pregnancy. “These women are desperate,” said Hern. “They don’t want to have an abortion. They want to have a baby.”

While a significant portion of his patients come to him with wanted pregnancies marred by complications, he provides later abortion care for a variety of reasons. “All these patients have some critical issue for which pregnancy is just the death knell for them,” he said. “There are all kinds of situations.” Some are struggling with addiction, he said. Some have serious mental health concerns. Some are trying to get out of an abusive relationship. Some are minors who have been raped. “Pregnancy is a threat to their lives. Period.”

In spite of Colorado’s status as an abortion care safe haven—or, perhaps, because of it—it’s no stranger to attacks on reproductive care. Between 2008 and 2014, anti-choice advocates pushed three nearly identical ballot measures, each defining life as beginning at conception, thereby establishing “fetal personhood,” or the conferring of legal rights to fertilized eggs and fetuses in the state constitution—a near-total ban on abortion.

These attempts were rejected by Colorado voters. Yet for 2020, state activists have proposed what they see as a more moderate proposal, one that they believe will be much more palatable to voters: a ballot initiative to ban abortion at 22 weeks.

The group advocating for the initiative, dubbed Due Date Too Late, began gathering the 124,632 signatures needed to place it on Colorado’s November 2020 ballot in September, and is confident that they’ll have plenty of support.

“We have built a grassroots coalition of people with diverse interests and backgrounds who believe that abortion up to the date of birth is too extreme,” Giuliana Day of Due Date Too Late told the Denver Post. “This initiative will succeed because 73 percent of Americans think that abortion should have limitations, according to a recent Gallup poll.”

Children born with lissencephaly, a rare brain malformation, often have trouble swallowing and frequent seizures, in addition to other intellectual and physical challenges. Some need feeding tubes. Some are never able to walk, stand, or sit. Many never show significant development beyond the three to five month level. Early death is common, often before the age of ten years, due to respiratory disease, aspiration of food or fluids, or severe seizures, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Lissencephaly occurs in roughly one in 100,000 pregnancies. Margot was the one.

In Michigan, where Margot lives and teaches at a university, abortion is banned after the fetus is considered viable, around 24 weeks, except in cases of life endangerment. When doctors first detected abnormalities, Margot wasn’t yet past the cutoff, but still didn’t have a clear prognosis. She could have ended the pregnancy then, without having the information she needed to make the decision, and it would have been legal in her state.

“It was shocking,” said Margot. “I could have an abortion today, and you can’t tell me what’s going to happen to this baby, what even the range of options is, but in a few weeks, we might be able to say what is going to happen with complete precision, and yet at that point, there would be no options at all in Michigan.”

She waited. More tests and more time revealed a particularly severe case. So, at 29 weeks into her pregnancy, she traveled to Colorado to visit the Boulder Abortion Clinic. It was only in retrospect, after the procedure was done and she was home, that it dawned on her how meaningful the lack of interrogation felt: the right way to treat somebody who has made their decision, is to treat them as if they have made their decision. Like they’re the authority over their body and their life.

This lack of scrutiny has become increasingly rare. It was close to what would have been Amber’s due date in the fall of 2016 when Donald Trump was broadcast into her living room during the third presidential debate, launching a graphic and inaccurate assault on later abortion.

“If you go with what Hillary [Clinton] is saying, in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother, just prior to the birth of the baby,” Trump notoriously said at the time. “You can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb, in the ninth month, on the final day. That’s not acceptable.” Trump’s comments, Amber recalled, made her want to puke. She wanted to throw the TV in the trash. “It’s rage-inducing,” she told Jezebel.

Despite the fact that later abortion is exceptionally rare—less than 2 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks, and less than 1 percent occur after the third trimester—it is still a reliable target of conservative rhetoric.

Trump’s graphic mischaracterization of later abortion care was a gift to the anti-abortion movement, bringing the issue squarely into the public spotlight, where it’s remained for the better part of three years now. Those who have sought abortion care late into a desired pregnancy have been forced to relive what is often one of the most devastating events of their lives, all while being characterized as murderers.

One byproduct of the renewed attention and escalation in rhetoric is that women like Amber who have ended wanted pregnancies are turning to each other for support. Margot, who now helps run a private online support group called Ending a Wanted Pregnancy, tells me that the need for such groups has escalated. “People are I’m sure headed to therapy in greater numbers, and they’re absolutely headed to us in greater numbers.”

Margot explained that usually new members join the group fresh in their grief, around the time they’ve decided to terminate their pregnancy or shortly thereafter. In the last several months, however, women like Amber, who decided to end desired pregnancies years ago, are flocking to the group.

“We’ve gotten a lot of members whose abortions were three, five, ten, sometimes even 20 or 30 years ago, and the political rhetoric is bringing up emotional issues for them,” Margot said. “All of a sudden, you have our president and one of the two major political parties and most of the people in it talking about procedures that are specifically targeting things that happened to them, and doing it in such violent, inaccurate, and clearly manipulative ways.”

After Amber returned home from Boulder, she felt isolated and emotionally withdrawn, not wanting to pick up the phone or talk to anyone. She wishes she would have known about the group back then. “It’s so important for people to have support and be able to talk with other people who have been through the same thing and not feel like they’re a baby murdering asshole,” Amber said.

Margot says members of the group frequently experience internalized shame and stigma. “If you have shame about it, which is usually produced by that feeling that you’re alone and different and unworthy, finding out that other people are the same is the best medicine for it,” said Margot. “It’s the antidote to it. You’re not alone or unworthy.”

Days after finding out they’d have to travel to Colorado for an abortion, Amber and Matt boarded a plane. A friend of theirs donated airline miles for their flight and upgraded them to first class, something Amber said she had never before and probably will never again experience.

Who knew eggs and bacon on an airplane could be this fucking delicious, and how weird is it that I’m flying first class to go have an abortion?, Amber remembers thinking as she stared out the airplane window, trying not to cry.

“It felt so bizarre,” she said.

Back home in Huntsville, Amber’s sister and Matt’s brother were looking after the dogs and removing the traces of a baby from the house.

Amber said she can’t imagine what it would have been like to not have that kind of support, on top of the emotional distress and financial hardship. After taking a week off of work at the gun range without warning, Matt feared he wouldn’t have a job when he came back.

Once in Boulder for the procedure, Matt was in and out of the clinic giving updates to Amber’s family. Phones aren’t allowed inside the building for security reasons, something Amber described as a little jarring.

“You can’t even bring in a bag or anything,” Amber said. “You just go in with your ID, and I might have had a book or something. At this point, of course, I realized why.”

For the next week, they were back and forth between the clinic and the hotel, where Amber said she spent a lot of time lying on the floor and binge-watching Game of Thrones while Matt went to go pick up food. When they would go out to eat, Amber remembers thinking, Oh God, does everyone know? I’m barely showing, but I’m showing.

Amber used a payment plan to pay off the procedure, which cost nearly $15,000, and for about a year, she received a monthly reminder of her loss in the form of a charge on her credit card.

Reflecting on her own experience and the ballot initiative that would strip other pregnant people of the ability to access that kind of care, Amber found herself searching for the right words: “Frustrating and irritating are not sufficiently intense emotional words,” she said. “It’s insane.”

She returns to the memory of talking to Matt about how they might have to end the pregnancy without medical care. The “joke” about being pushed down the stairs. “I wasn’t just saying that,” she said. “Women are going to seek unsafe alternatives.”

“You’re putting women in this position of increasing their risks of death and harm needlessly,” she continued. “Why are you risking this woman’s life? How unimportant is a pregnant person’s life?”

Source: https://jezebel.com/the-desperate-trail-to-safe-haven-abortions-in-colorado-1840157545?fbclid=IwAR1nzKlyjKIujlPt42PJDrP9tFlxRSocCvmFiYMI5jL6kxLOBlRXBP57iMg

In 2019, thousands of women protested against state decisions revoking their reproductive rights. Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images

In 2019, thousands of women protested against state decisions revoking their reproductive rights. Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images

  • A groundbreaking study analyzed 667 women’s emotions about their decisions to have abortions. It followed them from a week after their abortions until five years post-procedure.  

  • After three years, 99% of these women said having an abortion was the right decision. After five years, 95% said the strongest emotion they felt was relief. 

  • This is the first study of its kind to investigate how women feel years after their abortions. Other studies on the topic have been limited to one week or one month post-procedure. 

  • These findings run contrary to many of the claims that fuel state-level laws restricting abortion access in America. 

Five years after their abortions, the strongest emotion almost all women feel isn’t regret, but relief. That was the takeaway of a groundbreaking five-year study of 667 women published today in Social Science & Medicine.

The study, conducted between 2008 and 2016, followed each woman from a week after her abortion until five years post-abortion to see how she felt about her decision years down the line.

While other studies have looked at the emotional effects of abortion, they’ve been limited to a week or month post-procedure since larger, long-term studies are prohibitively expensive and time consuming.

“I wanted to investigate if there was any evidence to the claims that abortion had negative long-lasting effects,” said epidemiologist Corinne Rocca, who conducted the study as part of UCSF’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health and funded her study with grants from four different foundations.

For example, could abortions haunt women later in life and cause major feelings of regret? Could there be a basis for the waiting period 27 states require before a woman can get an abortion? Could the state-mandated abortion materials given out in eight states that claim abortion causes lasting mental health harm be correct?

According to the study, no, no, and no.

“What we found was that there definitively wasn’t” evidence to support claims that the procedure has detrimental long-term effects, Rocca said.

The results showed nearly all women didn’t regret their abortions

The study included a mix of white, black, and Latina women from 30 clinics across the U.S. The average age was 25, and 62% were already raising kids.

“We actually achieved a sample that looks very similar to the population of women who seek abortions nationally,” Rocca said.

The study’s analysis shows that one week after their abortion, 51% of the participants felt positive emotions, 17% felt negative emotions, and 20% felt no emotions.

The study also found that 46% of women felt it wasn’t a difficult decision to have an abortion, but for the 27% of people who did have difficulty with the choice, feelings of sadness declined sharply in the two years post-procedure.

After three years, 99% said having an abortion was the right decision. Even the women who had abortions later on in their pregnancies did not experience any more regret than the women who had earlier abortions.

After five years, the emotion most commonly felt by 95% of these women was relief.

Michelle Williams golden globes
Michelle Williams attends the 2020 Golden Globes, where she delivered a pro-choice message in her acceptance speech. 
Frazer Harrison / Staff / Getty Images

Women didn’t think much about their abortions until they were prompted

Women often told interviewers their feelings on their abortions were virtually nonexistent. “The only time I think about my abortion is when you call up and ask about it,” Rocca said many women told her.

The study also measured community stigma and found that 31% of women said people in their community would look down on them if they knew about the abortion. Those women expressed higher levels of post-abortion sadness, suggesting that sociocultural context plays a role in how women feel about their abortions.

The researchers accounted for factors that could have influenced the findings, including if the woman was in a relationship with the man who was involved in the pregnancy, if the women had histories of depression or anxiety, if they intended to get pregnant, if they had social support, and their age, race, and what stage of pregnancy they were in.

Abortion remains a highly stigmatized and divisive procedure in the US

Ever since the Supreme Court decriminalization in 1973, abortion has been a highly stigmatized medical procedure that divides Americans. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 53% of American adults believe abortion should be legal “only under certain circumstances,” while 21% think it should be completely illegal.

Every state in America has different laws limiting the types of abortions that can be performed, with 45 states allowing healthcare providers to refuse to give women abortions. There are 27 states that require a waiting period before women can have abortions. And, eight states are required to give women literature on the long-term mental health consequences of having an abortion.

All of these laws are premised on the idea that having an abortion can cause women long-term emotional harm. But this study shows this premise is faulty.

abortion protest
A young woman holds a sign demanding a woman’s right to abortion at a demonstration in Madison, Wisconsin in 1971. 
AP Photo

The study’s findings are consistent with previous research done on women and abortion

In 1987, President Reagan asked the surgeon general at the time, a man named Everett Koop, to prepare a report stating that abortion was psychologically harmful to women.

Koop was morally opposed to abortion, but he was also a scientist. He found that there wasn’t any data to back Reagan’s claim. In 1989 the New York Times reported that Koop told Reagan there was insufficient evidence to create the report and quoted him saying he was concerned the president’s advisors thought “it was a foregone conclusion that the negative health effects of abortion on women were so overwhelming that the evidence would force the reversal of Roe v. Wade.”

Since then, “studies looking at the emotional consequences of abortion show that people are unlikely to experience mental health challenges following an abortion — except in cases when pre-abortion emotional challenges existed or when an intended pregnancy is ended due to medical concerns,” according to a statement Dr. Gillian Dean, the senior medical director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, sent to Insider.

“Evidence shows that being denied a wanted abortion can have greater emotional and physical consequences on a person’s health,” she added.

Despite the current study’s consistencies with past research, Dr. Wendy Chavkin, professor emerita at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, told Insider she doesn’t think it will have much of an effect on policy.

“The people who are so opposed to abortion don’t care about the data,” she said. “It’s like climate change deniers. The data is irrelevant. But for women considering abortions to know that 95% of women didn’t regret it? That’s important.”

Source: https://www.insider.com/almost-no-women-regret-having-abortions-feel-relief-landmark-study-2020-1?fbclid=IwAR1UbwoG25PHUdK53A6BGoo8rpcEp7dGo8FCxS5SQf3GfgPyENIfOecL164

Living in a state without abortion coverage restrictions on Affordable Care Act plans doesn’t mean your insurance company will cover it.

In some states where ACA marketplace plans do cover abortion, the information about whether a certain type of abortion will qualify for coverage and when is unclear.

Four in ten adults would not have enough money on hand to cover an unforeseen expense of $400, according to a recent Federal Reserve Board survey. At an average cost of $500, a first-trimester abortion is squarely out of reach for many women if insurance doesn’t cover their care.

That means out-of-pocket costs for abortion can be detrimental to families. We know from research that low-income people who aren’t able to use their public insurance to cover abortion care endure financial hardships as they work to find the funds. Less is known about people’s experiences accessing abortion through private health insurance such as employer-based insurance or insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which together cover a majority of people in the United States.

At Ibis Reproductive Health, we reviewed evidence on the topic and found that policyholders themselves lack information, and many are unsure if their insurance covers abortion. And in a study of marketplace plans—the insurance plans established through the ACA—the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) recently found that many ACA plans don’t cover abortion services, even in states with no restrictions on coverage.

Hurdles to using insurance to cover abortion are due in part to restrictions passed by lawmakers to limit private insurance coverage of abortion. Over 30 restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion have been passed by state legislatures in the past ten years. Meanwhile, the Trump administration recently finalized a rule designed to cause confusion among enrollees and limit access to insurance coverage of abortion. With ACA marketplace plans required to send a separate billing statement for abortion coverage, this new administrative burden will be passed on to individuals in the form of higher premiums—or plans will eventually drop abortion coverage altogether. As NHeLP’s report documents, many ACA plans have already placed restrictions on abortion coverage, such as lifetime or yearly limits on the number of abortions an enrollee can receive. With this new rule, coverage is likely to worsen.

In states where private insurance coverage of abortion is banned but an insurance rider (an extra monthly fee that someone can pay to have this coverage) is allowed, abortion coverage is still not accessible. Research has found that only one plan in one state actually included a rider option.

Restrictions aren’t the only reason people can’t have their abortion covered: In some states where private and marketplace insurance plans are able to cover abortion, the information about whether and when a certain type of abortion will qualify for coverage is unclear. Extreme limits on private insurance coverage, in addition to inconsistent or unavailable information on coverage, forces many to pay out-of-pocket for a reproductive health service that one in four women will use in their lifetimes.

The Affordable Care Act was designed to improve access to health care, especially for low- and middle-income people. For those paying for their insurance and actively trying to stay insured, an emergency health cost such as an abortion could have serious implications for the family’s finances. It is paramount to include better coverage for reproductive health services in plans and policy proposals to improve our health care system.

NHelp’s recent report reinforces other findings that have demonstrated that living in a state without restrictions on abortion coverage does not mean an insurance company will cover it. It is critical for consumers and advocates to speak up and ask insurance companies to offer transparent, clear, and comprehensive information on abortion coverage policies.

Affordability is key to increasing access to quality abortion care. With increasing restrictions on private insurance coverage of abortion, it is important to protect the coverage we have and to improve coverage of all reproductive health services in places where coverage is restricted.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2020/01/08/people-dont-know-if-their-insurance-covers-abortion-care/

A Massachusetts woman who had an abortion when she was 15 stands outside the Suffolk County Courthouse in Boston. Right now, girls facing that decision who don’t want to tell their parents must get a judge’s approval.
Jesse Costa/Jesse Costa/WBUR

The teenager was just 15, and recovering from a rape, when she realized she was pregnant. This young woman, whom NPR has agreed not to name, says she knew right away that she wanted to terminate the pregnancy. But like a lot of states, Massachusetts required — and still requires — minors to get a parent’s consent before obtaining an abortion.

“I knew I couldn’t tell my mom or my immediate family members,” she says, “because my pregnancy was the result of a sexual assault from a family friend.” Her home, she adds, “wasn’t necessarily a safe or healthy one at the time.”

So the 15-year-old pursued her only legal alternative: obtaining permission for the procedure from a state judge. She remembers staring up at a man who never made eye contact with her during their short conversation about grades and whether she played sports. She says the judge never asked her about the assault or her planned abortion.

“And then, right before I was leaving, he just encouraged me to think harder next time, before I had sex,” she recalls. “That was tough to hear.”

The judge issued an order granting her request. But the additional time it took to get that permission pushed the 15-year-old past the point that would allow her to take pills to induce an abortion. Research shows going to court typically delays an abortion for minors in Massachusetts by six days — delays that are most common among low-income, nonwhite teenagers.

So, instead of a medical abortion, she had to have the more invasive surgical procedure. But that’s not what weighs heavily on the young woman, who is now 23, has a masters degree and works for a nonprofit in Boston.

“The feeling that I had — from seeing the judge and those last words he said to me about being ‘more responsible’ ” — is what has stuck with her.

Required parental consent is one of the main reasons Massachusetts, often viewed as a bastion of liberal laws, only gets a grade of “C” for abortion access from an abortion rights group. Now, there’s an ongoing, vigorous debate in Massachusetts about whether to keep or remove this restriction.

It’s part of a larger process, in which both supporters of abortion rights and groups that oppose abortion are re-examining — and often changing — state-level policies in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. Both sides believe the appointment of Kavanaugh could lead to Roe v. Wade being overturned, which would mean the power to determine abortion policy would return to states.

Abortion-rights opponents say that when minors seek out abortion, having a parent or judge involved is supposed to help protect vulnerable teenagers, such as the 15-year-old who was raped. (That young woman says she has always assumed her lawyer told the judge how she got pregnant, but she can’t be sure.)

“In our laws, we need to do as much as we can — especially given the kind of epidemic abuse that we’re facing — to interrupt that cycle,” says David Franks, chairman of the board of the anti-abortion group Massachusetts Citizens for Life.

And requiring parental consent works to cut down on the procedures, these opponents of abortion rights say. The restriction has prevented at least 10,000 abortions since it was enacted in Massachusetts, according to calculations by Michael New, a visiting professor at The Catholic University of America. That takes into account the hundreds of Massachusetts teenagers who travel to neighboring states every year where parental consent for minors is not required. New says Massachusetts residents have traditionally backed some abortion limits for teenagers.

“Even in these more ‘liberal’ states, some of the existing pro-life laws still enjoy a lot of support,” New says. “I think most people are uncomfortable with minor girls obtaining abortions without their parent’s knowledge.”

Still, a poll out this past summer found that a plurality of Massachusetts voters favor letting minors decide on their own.

Removing parental consent is one of the key elements in a bill being called the “Roe Act” that’s pending in the Massachusetts legislature. It would also allow abortions in the third trimester — if a doctor diagnoses a fatal fetal condition — and, in anticipation of a post-Roe world, would establish the right to an abortion in state law.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Harriette Chandler, argues that abortion is more widely accepted these days as general medical care. Chandler, who is 82, remembers when it wasn’t.

“I think if people realize what a post-Roe world would be, that would make it even more reasonable to do this bill,” Chandler says.

Her proposed legislation is still in committee, and its ultimate fate is unclear. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, says he generally supports access to abortion, but not Chandler’s proposed expansions to state law.

Massachusetts, a heavily Catholic state, was among the first to pass limits on legal abortions in the 1970s, including required parental consent for minors. Twenty-five other states enforce a similar law for minors. No state has repealed the restriction.

‘It’s really been difficult to repeal barriers across the country,” says Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director at the abortion rights group NARAL Massachusetts. “This is a moment for us to take back that narrative and say those barriers are not acceptable.”

The prospect of eroding or overturning Roe v. Wade is triggering a flurry of legislative actions in states across the country. The Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, says 17 states have passed abortion restrictions or bans this year, as compared to 9 states that have confirmed or expanded access to abortion.

The recent rush in many states to restrict abortion rights is part of what propels Chandler: “We’re going in a different direction than the rest of the country,” she says.

That reaction has also occurred in other left-leaning states, according to Guttmacher’s senior state issues manager, Elizabeth Nash. The increased focus on abortion began in late 2018, Nash says, when Kavanaugh’s arrival on the Supreme Court created a five-member conservative majority. Before then, abortion access wasn’t an urgent priority among liberals.

“People felt that they were OK,” Nash explains, “that their state was safe because they weren’t seeing the same kinds of attacks as, perhaps, in states like Texas or Louisiana.”

In Massachusetts, abortion-rights opponents are lobbying to dilute or defeat the Roe Act and then focus on their long-term goal: a state constitutional amendment to limit abortions.

Meanwhile, supporters of abortion rights say passage of the Roe Act would help Massachusetts cement its commitment to abortion access — and become a legislative haven for women who can’t obtain abortions in other states. With that message, they have stepped up fundraising appeals with the plea that even more women are going to need help with abortions in a post-Roe future.

This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes WBURNPR and Kaiser Health News.

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/02/789966125/massachusetts-may-drop-requirement-that-minors-get-permission-for-abortion?fbclid=IwAR2izOjEZebQj9AZLK3UrSqJnZbHbZ-exRTQ7DPJIc7B2y-q_0iuNoIozxo

AUSTIN — Using home remedies such as herbs, teas and vitamins or a prescription drug obtained from Mexico, Texas women have tried to end their pregnancies themselves three times more often than women in other states, a new study finds.

The Texas Policy Evaluation Project at The University of Texas at Austin found 6.9 percent percent of 721 patients seeking abortion tried to end their pregnancies on their own before going to an abortion clinic, compared to 2.2 percent nationally. The results of the study were released Thursday morning.

“We hear from clients pretty often, if I can’t get money for this, trying it at home is their next step,” said Cristina Parker, a spokeswoman for the Lilith Fund, which offers financial assistance to people who need abortions.

Most women who used misoprostol — a safe pill commonly used in abortion clinics but available without a prescription in Mexico — were successful in ending their pregnancies, the research found. Women who used home remedies found their attempts failed and sought care at an abortion clinic.

Common factors among the 721 women surveyed and 18 interviewed found they lived in poverty or had other obstacles that led them to believe they had no other option, such as finding their nearest clinic had closed or they could not afford to pay for the procedure. Nearly all said they would have preferred to go to a clinic instead of ending their pregnancies themselves, the study showed.

Self-managed abortion could be on the rise as people from states hostile to abortion wrestle with restrictive policies. The Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, found 18 percent of non-hospital clinics across the country reported treating at least one case of a person who attempted an abortion without a doctor’s help in 2017. That’s up from 12 percent in 2014.

The Texas study, which involved a researcher from Guttmacher, suggests self-managed abortions could become more common in Texas if clinics become more difficult to access. Researchers say that could be especially true in South Texas — where women are closer to Mexico and can more readily obtain misoprostol — or among poor women who cannot afford an abortion, which can cost $500 or more.

“If people have to choose a self-managed procedure thinking that what they could be doing is dangerous or that it could compromise their future fertility, and they’re therefore scared and think they have no other options, that’s not health care with dignity,” said Liza Fuentes, senior research scientist at Guttmacher who worked in collaboration with the Texas Policy Evaluation Project on the study.

She said the findings show a need to ensure women who try to end their pregnancies at home have accurate information about effective methods and what to expect.

The research was conducted in 2012 and 2014, before and after a Texas law forced nearly half the state’s abortion clinics to close. The 2013 law imposed regulations the U.S. Supreme Court found created an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion. The high court struck down the law in 2016, ruling that the clinic closures caused women to drive farther and face longer wait times.

The data is too old to offer a sense of how accessible abortions are, said Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. Five abortion clinics and more than 100 centers offering alternatives to abortion have opened since researchers conducted its last interviews and surveys, he said.

“I believe there are grave reasons to question the relevance of the data that the author is putting forward because it’s quite old and things have changed he Texas,” said Pojman.

There are 24 clinics performing abortions in Texas, down from 41 that were open before the Texas law.

More than 52,000 abortions were reported in Texas in 2017, the latest year of which data is available. In 2012, the year before the law instituted regulations that caused clinics to close, more than 68,000 were performed.

Texas has passed other abortion restrictions that have withstood legal challenges, such as a 2011 law requiring abortion providers to show or describe an ultrasound image of the fetus to the woman and play sounds of the fetal heart beat before moving forward with the procedure.

Source: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/DIY-abortion-attempts-three-times-as-prevalent-in-14962685.php?fbclid=IwAR0nc5IChvNVq_tH_raf6FpSxXIAUpn2bHFZXDBX6LTwSXpEkBq8_mbk_aA