Leaked abortion decision could trigger a tidal wave of terror
Some states are stepping up, though
Welcome to a Wednesday evening edition of Progressives Report.
It’s been a very grim week thus far. On Monday, a leaked decision indicated that the Supreme Court plans on overturning Roe v. Wade and setting the stage for further attacks on our most basic rights. Today, the United States surpassed more than a million deaths from Covid, an unspeakable tragedy that has gone mostly unremarked upon. It is a uniquely American irony that both events have been orchestrated by politicians and judges who claim to be “pro-life.”
In bleak times like these, I like to look to the grassroots for hope. With a federal government run by ineffectual, exhausted, transparently corrupt politicians unwilling to fight back, people on the ground are already starting to fill the void. That includes this community: I’m excited to announce that over the past 48 hours, we’ve raised just about $65,000 for abortion funds all across the country.
Every cent of that money will go towards the more than 30 abortion funds and clinics listed on the ActBlue page, and each recipient will put their share toward whatever it deems most urgent. The cost of an abortion varies widely based on a number of factors, including medical circumstances and geographic locations, but as one doctor and clinic owner told me this week, it averages out to about $500 per procedure.
Many abortion funds also pay for travel for women that do not live near any clinics, and come this summer, the need for that kind of assistance is going to increase exponentially.
As we’ll discuss in tonight’s newsletter, states that have already all but banned abortion are lining up to create even stricter and more punitive laws against women and doctors. So for the time being, it’s up to blue states to lead the way in preserving access to care for anyone that wants or needs it.
by Natalie Meltzer
If the draft Supreme Court majority decision overturning Roe v. Wade is adopted without much revision, it would effectively ban abortion in half the country. Already, there are 26 states with laws on the books that ban or severely restrict abortions, including 13 states with so-called “trigger” laws that are written to go into effect if Roe is overturned.
With the bans in place, the average American would have to travel around 125 miles to reach the nearest abortion provider, compared to the current average of 25 miles. This would disproportionately impact low-income people and those who do not have paid time off to travel long distances and stay overnight to receive a routine medical procedure.
It’s also why we keep suggesting you donate to abortion funds so underserved communities are able to access reproductive care.
The Supreme Court’s decision could also spur additional states to pass restrictions and embolden states with existing bans to enact even more draconian laws. A legislative committee in Louisiana just advanced a bill to qualify abortion as homicide, with both mother and doctor chargeable.
Other Republicans want to limit women from even being able to leave an anti-choice state to undergo an abortion elsewhere, and it looks as if they have the technology to at least try.
Moreover, anti-choice activists and their allies in Congress are plotting to push for a strict nationwide ban on the procedure if Republicans retake power in Washington.
The conservative hijacking of the country’s legislative and judicial systems leaves little room to maneuver to save the right to choose.
In response to the leaked decision, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to bring legislation upholding access to abortions for a vote. But he refused to commit to changing Senate filibuster rules to overcome Republican obstruction, effectively rendering the bill dead on arrival.
President Biden and Schumer are banking on strong turnout in the midterm elections to provide a mandate for passing pro-choice legislation. “If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November,” the White House said in a statement.
This mentality is shared by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and EMILY’s List, which just committed $150 million toward ads, field programs, message testing, and polling in nine states with major congressional and gubernatorial races this fall.
It’s a risky proposal: anti-abortion voters are much more likely to be single-issue voters and therefore drawn to the polls around the issue. And as Democrats do little to protest this ruling or try to mount any sort of pressure campaign, there’s little indication that voters will have any faith that their efforts this fall would result in any tangible change. After all, Democratic leaders are campaigning for anti-choice Rep. Henry Cuellar against primary challenger Jessica Cisneros, a progressive pro-choice woman, as we speak.
Add in the failure to pass voting rights protections or ban gerrymandering, and winning any close elections seems far-fetched right now.
Corporate America isn’t doing much better. Companies are committing to help cover travel costs for employees who have to go out of state for abortions, including Apple, Levi Strauss & Co., Hewlett Packard, and Citigroup. But these benefits may not be available to those who need it most; Amazon’s new $4,000 travel benefit for abortion excludes its 115,000 delivery drivers and Medicaid recipients.
In states with abortion restrictions, it will be left largely to local prosecutors to decide which abortion cases to pursue, what charges to push for, and what evidence to present. In some localities, prosecutors have committed not to prosecute abortion:
Five district attorneys in Texas—including Dallas, Travis, Bexar, Nueces, and Fort Bend counties—have publicly promised not to pursue abortion-related criminal charges if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk also committed not to pursue abortion cases, stating that "As long as I am the elected District Attorney for the 20th Judicial District, I will not prosecute any woman who chooses to have a medical procedure to terminate a pregnancy or any medical doctor who performs this procedure at the request of their patient."
States that have abortion protections in place are also taking action to strengthen their policies:
In March, the Oregon legislature allocated $15 million to assist abortion providers, increase training, or provide travel funds for women in need.
Colorado passed a bill affirming access to reproductive freedom last month.
On Friday, Connecticut passed a bill that aims to protect individuals from other states’ extreme, overreaching abortion bans by prohibiting state courts from enforcing a different state’s penalties against someone who has provided an abortion that is considered legal in Connecticut.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced proposing an amendment to enshrine the right to choose in the state's constitution.
There is also the potential to roll back abortion restrictions through ballot initiatives. While this pathway has historically been dominated by anti-choice activists, two pro-choice measures will be on state ballots this year:
Michigan has a 1931 law banning abortions on the books that would go back into effect if Roe is overturned. If the Reproductive Freedom for All constitutional amendment passes in November, that law would be invalidated.
Voters in Vermont will also decide whether to add the right to reproductive autonomy to their state’s constitution in November.
The upside to this strategy is that the majority of Americans support the right to abortion: 59% of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. That gives these ballot measures a good shot at passing.
But without federal action, we’ll be left with an uneven patchwork of policies that leaves the most vulnerable without access to reproductive health services. Anything short of that is insufficient.
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The US this week has declared it is under minority rule,
disempowering and undermining women, the 80% men on top,
so scared of the life-affirming browning and feminizing --
i.e. the humanizing -- of this country.