“U.S. Repro Watch” provides periodic updates on news of interest on U.S. reproductive rights. Here are five recent items you won’t want to miss:
1. Three Texas women were sued after allegedly helping a friend obtain abortion medication.
- A Texas man sued the women under the state’s wrongful death statute, alleging that they assisted his ex-wife in terminating her pregnancy and that assisting a self-managed abortion qualifies as murder under state law. His lawyers have said they also intend to name the manufacturer of the abortion medication as a defendant.
- The lawsuit is the first of its kind since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
2. Abortion remains legal in North Dakota after a ruling by the state Supreme Court.
- In its March 16 ruling, the North Dakota Supreme Court found that the challenge to the ban is likely to succeed. “The North Dakota Constitution explicitly provides all citizens of North Dakota the right of enjoying and defending life and pursuing and obtaining safety. These rights implicitly include the right to obtain an abortion to preserve the woman’s life or health,” the ruling states.
- The ruling came in a case filed in July by the Center and its partners arguing that the ban is unconstitutional under the state’s constitution. Abortion care will remain legal in the state while litigation proceeds in a lower court.
3. On the opening day of the Florida legislature’s 2023 regular session, state lawmakers proposed a ban on abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy.
- The ban, introduced on March 7, would take effect if the Florida Supreme Court overturns its constitutional protections for abortion. The legislation also seeks to prevent the use of public funds to help people travel out of state for abortion care.
- Floridians have been unable to access abortion care after 15 weeks of pregnancy for almost a year now under a state law that is being reviewed by the state’s high court. Numerous groups have documented the harmful effects of Florida’s 15-week ban in briefs submitted to the state Supreme Court, including one that highlights patients’ experiences trying to get abortions in the state.
4. Bills to improve access to reproductive health care have also been progressing in other state legislatures.
- The Michigan Senate voted to repeal the state’s antiquated 1931 abortion ban, sending the legislation to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for signature.
- Mississippi’s legislature passed legislation expanding postpartum Medicaid coverage to a year. Gov. Tate Reeves has promised to sign the bill into law.
- Colorado lawmakers unveiled a set of bills to shore up protections for both abortion and gender-affirming care, including legislation to protect access to medication abortion via telemedicine across state lines and to prohibit “deceptive advertising” for abortion and other reproductive health services.
5. Outside the U.S., a district court in Warsaw convicted human rights defender Justyna Wydrzyńska of the crime of “helping with an abortion.”
- Wydrzyńska, who was accused of helping a woman in an abusive relationship access abortion medication,was sentenced on March 14 to eight months of community service.
- Her conviction marks the first time in recent history in which a human rights defender in Europe has been prosecuted and convicted for assisting with access to abortion, setting a dangerous precedent.
- Poland is one of only two European Union member states that do not allow abortion on request and has banned abortion in almost all circumstances.
March 27: Hearings on abortion restrictions in Kansas
- The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments over several abortion restrictions, including a ban on the standard abortion procedure used after about 15 weeks of pregnancy and other medically unnecessary regulations. The two hearings will be held back to back starting at 9 AM CT/10 AM ET. A livestream will be available on YouTube.
March 28: Hearing on Georgia’s six-week abortion ban.
- The Georgia Supreme Court will hear arguments over the state’s ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy. The Center and partners are arguing that the ban violates the state constitution.
- In November, a lower court struck down the six-week ban, but the state’s high court allowed the law to go back into effect as the court considers the case.
- The hearing will begin at approximately 11 AM ET. A recording will be available on the Georgia Supreme Court’s website.
Did you know?
A new report from UN agencies found that maternal mortality rates in 2020 climbed or stagnated in nearly all regions of the world. Approximately 800 women died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day in 2020. From 2016 to 2020, maternal mortality increased by 17% in Europe and North America and by 15% in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The United States was one of eight countries and territories that saw a spike in maternal deaths, with the rate almost doubling between 2000 and 2020. Groups have warned that banning abortion will only increase maternal mortality in the U.S. Data shows that banning abortion could lead to a 24% increase in maternal mortality and would disproportionately impact Black people across the country.