“Republican state officials have been waiting decades for the chance to ban abortion.
Now that they can, red state lawmakers are mired in partisan infighting and struggling to agree on how far to go. The most fervently anti-abortion lawmakers are accusing their colleagues of capitulating on rape and incest exceptions, while those calling for compromise or moderation believe more strident Republicans are ignoring political realities.”
“On Tuesday, an unprecedented number of Kansans voted against a constitutional amendment that would have allowed lawmakers to end abortion protections. That’s a big win for women’s rights, but the outcome also carries major implications for elections nationwide this November. It’s especially true in those states where abortion rights are on the ballot after the overturning of Roe Vs. Wade and where Democrats are seeking to stay in power.
Contrary to what some conservatives had thought, abortion is an issue that can mobilize voters.
More than 900,000 Kansans showed up to the polls to vote on the state’s abortion referendum. That’s the biggest turnout for a primary election in the state’s history, according to the Kansas Secretary of State’s office. That number is closer to what we’d expect to see in a general election turnout, which is always vastly higher than primaries. And it suggests we could also see high turnout in upcoming primaries where abortion is on the docket.”
“What’s perhaps most surprising about the referendum vote is that it happened in a very Republican state. Just a quarter of registered voters in Kansas are Democrats, while 40 percent are Republicans. Nearly a third are unaffiliated.”
“The whole sorry affair should remind us of one key reason why Roe was decided in the first place: to protect doctors.
It is a sad fact that some doctors will avoid providing essential medical care if the treatment in question is politically controversial. These doctors understandably fear that an overzealous prosecutor might use a vague law against them, just as Indiana’s attorney general threatened to do here.
Doctors who deal in certain types of pharmaceuticals run the same risks. In fact, just three days after Dobbs, the Supreme Court actually enhanced the legal protections for doctors who prescribe opioids. In an ironic twist, the Court did so while effectively reviving a pre-Roe case that protected the medical privacy rights of abortion providers.”
“The Dobbs decision obliterated those medical privacy protections by a narrow 5–4 vote. Yet by a 6–3 vote just three days later, the Supreme Court embraced the logic of Roe’s most important predecessor (Vuitch) when it strengthened the medical privacy rights of doctors who prescribe opioids (Ruan).
This contradictory and confusing state of affairs is bad both for medicine and for the law, and it ought to be fixed as soon as possible. Whenever a poorly drafted statute is open to abuse by an overreaching prosecutor, the Supreme Court has the option of using the void-for-vagueness doctrine to strike down the offending law. The Court could also require that all abortion regulations conform to the doctor-friendly rules spelled out in Ruan and Vuitch. Particularly egregious laws, meanwhile, can be invalided by the courts for lacking a rational basis.
The Constitution provides firm procedural safeguards whenever the government interferes with life, liberty, property, or privacy. The Supreme Court needs to ensure that doctors still enjoy those safeguards’ benefits.”
“A pregnant Plano, Texas, woman argues that she has a right to drive in a highway lane reserved for vehicles with two or more passengers. At 34 weeks pregnant, Brandy Bottone was pulled over by police while driving in a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane on Interstate 75 South. When asked if there was anyone else in the car, Bottone pointed to her stomach and said “my baby girl,” she told The Dallas Morning News:
“One officer kind of brushed me off when I mentioned this is a living child, according to everything that’s going on with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. ‘So I don’t know why you’re not seeing that,’ I said.
“He was like, ‘I don’t want to deal with this.’ He said, ‘Ma’am, it means two persons outside of the body.’
“He waved me on to the next cop who gave me a citation and said, ‘If you fight it, it will most likely get dropped.’
“But they still gave me a ticket. So my $215 ticket was written to cause inconvenience?
“This has my blood boiling. How could this be fair? According to the new law, this is a life.
Bottone said she will be fighting the citation in court.
Her situation hints at how all sorts of existing rules could change—or at least be challenged—when the legal definition of personhood changes.”
“Almost half the United States is ready to outlaw abortion now that the Supreme Court has overruled Roe v. Wade. But many of those states are not willing to give new babies and their families the educational, medical, or financial support they need to lead a healthy life. That could leave tens of thousands of future children unnecessarily disadvantaged and living in poverty.”
“Those births will predominately be in the states with the most draconian post-Roe abortion restrictions. And with a few exceptions, those 22 states rank in the bottom half of states in the comprehensive support they provide to children and their families, according to the State-by-State Spending on Kids Dataset compiled by Brown University’s Margot Jackson and her colleagues. The disparities can be enormous: Vermont spends three times as much money on education, health care, and other economic support for children as Utah.”
“The children born in these circumstances will start life a few steps behind, all because their political leaders strove to ban abortion without offering support to the children who would be born if their aims were achieved.”
“Perhaps most insidiously, lack of abortion access seriously restricts women’s hopes for their own careers. Building on her team’s research in the Turnaway Study, Foster found that women who were unable to get a desired abortion were significantly less likely to have one-year goals related to employment than those who did, likely because those goals would be much harder to achieve while taking care of a newborn. They were also less likely to have one-year or five-year aspirational goals in general.”
“Black women are more likely to live in areas where it’s harder to access contraception. They get abortions at the highest rates compared to women of other races, due to high rates of unintended pregnancy.
The factors that lead some Black women to seek abortions are present from the day they are born, passed down from mothers who faced similar plights. Those born into poverty are less likely to have access to health care, let alone reproductive or maternal health care; when some Black women are able to seek care, they face medical racism. For centuries, Black women have fought for autonomy over their bodies, against government-sanctioned abuse and abuse from intimate partners. The end of a constitutional right to legal abortion makes the fight harder.
State-level abortion restrictions have already taken effect in at least eight states, and in total, 22 states have laws that impose very strict restrictions on abortions. Those states are home to 39 percent of the total US population, but 45 percent of Black women and girls under age 55.
The consequences will be dire. The end of legal abortion will trap Black women in cycles of poverty. The consequences will also be deadly. Black women have the highest rates of maternal mortality and pregnancy complications, and those risks will only increase if more Black women have to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. Here are the numbers that show how alarming the situation is.”
“Giving birth in the U.S. is already far more dangerous than in other wealthy countries. Ending the protections of Roe v. Wade — the 1973 decision that established the constitutional right to abortion — could make it even more so.
Multiple studies have found that the states that already have the tightest restrictions on abortion also have the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality. And that correlation stubbornly persists even after researchers account for some of the other differences between states, like racial demographics and health care policy. Some researchers think that abortion restrictions are part of the reason why pregnancy and childbirth are so much more dangerous in the U.S. — even for people who never wanted an abortion to begin with.
This data could just be a statistical red herring. But there are ways abortion restrictions could kill people, both directly and indirectly. And scientists say these correlations point toward dangerous disparities in health care access in the U.S. — not just in terms of who can get an abortion, but also in terms of who can get preventative care while pregnant, or even before.”
“Carrying an unplanned pregnancy involves shouldering increased risks of depression, preterm birth, lower birth weight and other complications.”
“Recently released government data shows that 861 women died from causes related to pregnancy and birth in 2020, up from 754 the year before. In population-level terms, the maternal mortality rate in 2020 was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in the U.S., compared with 3.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in Germany in 2019 and 7.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in France in 2015. (The maternal mortality rate calculated by the CDC includes deaths from abortion-related complications, but the organization also calculates that subset separately. In 2019, the death rate from abortion in the United States was minuscule: 0.41 deaths per 100,000 legal abortions between 2013 and 2018.) Infants are also at higher risk of dying in the U.S. than in other wealthy countries. In 2020, the infant mortality rate in the U.S. was 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with 1.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Finland and 2.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Spain.
Black Americans are nearly three times more likely than their white counterparts to die as a result of maternal complications, and the risk to Black babies is much higher as well. These disparities are so large that the states with the highest maternal mortality rates are also often states with large Black populations, and researchers have concluded that social factors like inequality and structural racism are playing a huge role in why pregnancy complications kill Americans.
But some researchers think that attempts to restrict abortion access are playing a part too.”
“The simplest explanation is just that giving birth is statistically more dangerous than having an abortion. If the states with the highest mortality rates are the also the ones banning abortion that means more births — and also more deaths.”
“efforts to reduce abortion access have often resulted in the closure of clinics like Planned Parenthood that offer a range of non-abortion-related services. Losing access to preventative health care puts people at a higher risk for all kinds of illnesses that can later cause pregnancy complications. And this effect means the impacts of abortion restriction can overlap and build on the social inequalities that are already harming Black people and babies.”