“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. On March 6, the Center filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against the state of Texas seeking to clarify the scope of the state’s “medical emergency” exception under its extreme abortion bans.
- The case, Zurawski v. State of Texas, was brought on behalf of five Texas women—each denied abortion care after facing severe and dangerous pregnancy complications—and two Texas obstetrician-gynecologists. It is the first lawsuit brought on behalf of women denied abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion.
- On March 7, the Center held a press conference in Austin to discuss the lawsuit. Four of the plaintiffs spoke about how their inability to access abortion care in Texas posed great risks to their fertility, health, and lives.
2. State legislators are debating a slew of bills to ban or reduce abortion access.
- Iowa lawmakers introduced legislation banning all abortion, mirroring a bill put forward in Texas last week. Both bills would require internet providers to block access to abortion information online.
- In Mississippi, legislators are attempting to stop Mississippians from ever launching ballot initiatives to protect abortion rights, but advanced a bill that would expand postpartum Medicaid coverage up to a year.
- Wyoming passed a total ban on abortion which would take effect if the Wyoming Supreme Court strikes down the state’s existing trigger ban. The bill, which now heads to Gov. Mark Gordon for signature, attempts to redefine abortion by claiming it is not healthcare.
3. A federal appellate court ruled on Feb. 27 that a New York anti-discrimination law protecting employees who seek abortions may be unconstitutional.
- The 2019 state law prohibits retaliation against employees for their reproductive health decisions, including getting an abortion.
- Although a lower court previously dismissed the challenge brought by a group of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, an appellate court restored the lawsuit this week.
- In its decision, a panel of the Second Circuit held that the law may violate anti-abortion groups’ constitutional right to freedom of association, sending it back to the lower court to proceed.
4. Members of Congress warned the Biden administration that federal resources could be used to investigate and prosecute abortion providers and patients, and urged it to prohibit such actions.
- Led by Sens. Ron Wyden, Mazie Hirono, and Rep. Sara Jacobs, 30 lawmakers sent President Biden a letter expressing concern that federal assistance could be used by state and local law enforcement to surveil and prosecute people who seek or provide abortion care.
- For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provide resources such as databases with sensitive location data that can be accessed by state and local law enforcement.
- The lawmakers urge Biden to consider instituting prohibitions on the use of federal assistance to support abortion-related investigations.
5. Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day.
- Abortion access has been critical to the advancements made by women towards gender equality over the last 50 years.
- The Turnaway Study found that women denied an abortion are four times more likely to live below the federal poverty line and face economic hardship lasting years. Laws restricting abortion access will only worsen economic outcomes for women.
March 10: Abortion Provider Appreciation Day
- In March 1993, Dr. David Gunn was killed by an anti-abortion protester. In 1996, March 10 became the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers to honor the life and work of Dr. Gunn and all those who provide abortion care.
March 27: Hearings on abortion restrictions in Kansas
- The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments over several abortion restrictions, including a ban on Dilation & Evacuation (D&E)—the standard abortion procedure used after about 15 weeks of pregnancy.
- In 2019, the state’s high court upheld a temporary block on the D&E ban. In that same ruling, the court recognized for the first time that the state constitution protects the right to abortion.
- The court will also hear arguments over numerous medically unnecessary regulations. The two hearings will be held back to back starting at 9AM CT/10AM ET on March 27.
Did you know?
A new survey found that there is widespread confusion over access to medication abortion. About half of adults are unsure whether medication abortion is legal in their state. Close to 50% of adults surveyed also expressed uncertainty over whether medication abortion requires a prescription.
A federal court in Texas is expected to soon issue a decision that could take away access to medication abortion nationwide, which would create even more chaos and confusion on the ground. Approximately 40 percent of the country’s clinics only offer medication abortions. In states like Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, Vermont and Wyoming, medication abortion accounted for at least 70 percent of all abortions there.