Democrats displayed a newfound sense of optimism about the election-year political climate Wednesday after voters in traditionally conservative Kansas overwhelmingly backed a measure protecting abortion rights. At the White House, President Joe Biden hailed the vote in Kansas as the direct result of outrage at the Supreme Court’s decision in June to repeal a woman’s constitutional right to obtain an abortion. Republicans and the high court “don’t have a clue about the power of American women,” Biden said. “Last night in Kansas, they found out.” On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., boasted of the political winds “blowing at Democrats.” “Last night in the American heartland, the people of Kansas sent an unmistakable message to the Republican extremists,” he said. “If it’s going to happen in Kansas, it’s going to happen in a whole lot of states.” With three months until the November election, the optimism may be premature. But it represents a much-needed break for a party that has spent the better part of the past year reeling from crisis to crisis, including the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and rising prices for gasoline and other goods. Those developments have contributed to Biden’s low approval ratings, leaving Democrats without a unifying leader in a position to rally voters before the election, with control of Congress at stake. The Kansas vote, however, suggests that threats to abortion rights may energize Democrats in a way few political leaders can. And it comes at a moment when the party is gaining momentum on other fronts, including a legislative package to reduce prescription drug prices, combat climate change and raise taxes on corporations. The challenge for Democrats will be to maintain the energy for several more months and defy trends that typically trip up the party in power. In recent history, the party controlling the White House almost always suffers deep losses in the first midterm election of a new presidency. Also, an overwhelming majority of voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction amid inflation and other economic concerns. Even with abortion-related momentum, many Democratic strategists privately expect to lose the House majority and believe the Senate is essentially a coin flip. The day after the Kansas vote, Democratic strategists on the front lines of key midterm contests described a complicated political reality on abortion. Abortion rights supporters surged to the polls in Kansas, where abortion was quite literally on the ballot. By a roughly 20-percentage point margin, they rejected a measure that would have changed the state constitution to allow state lawmakers to impose restrictions on abortion — or even a ban. The early August primary turnout was on par with a governor’s general election contest. But few elections this fall will feature such clear stakes for abortion rights. Just four states — California, Michigan, Vermont and Kentucky — are expected to feature a Kansas-style abortion referendum on the November ballot, according to the pro-Democratic group EMILY’s List. In the majority of states, Democrats must convince voters they can protect abortion access only by defeating anti-abortion Republican candidates at the state and federal level. While that is true in most cases, it’s much more complicated to run against a candidate than a single-issue ballot measure, according to Democratic pollster Molly Murphy. “The optimist would say, when voters know that abortion is on the ballot, they are motivated to turn out,” Murphy said. “That’s the messaging challenge that we are going to face. Will voters believe that a legal right to abortion is at stake here in this country in their vote for Congress, Senate, governor, state house — all of those things — and be as motivated to show up to vote?” “Republicans are going to do everything they can to deflect and not engage on this,” she added, noting the GOP’s heavy focus on inflation, gas prices and immigration. Indeed, as Democrats celebrated on Wednesday, the Republican reaction to the abortion vote was decidedly muted. The Kansas vote was “a huge disappointment for pro-life Kansans and Americans nationwide,” said Mallory Carroll, of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. Read: Overturning of Roe v Wade abortion law huge blow to women's rights: Bachelet Republican strategist Christine Matthews warned that the Kansas vote could have “an energizing effect for abortion rights supporters.” “Success breeds success,” she said. “It will encourage the belief that turning out and activating can make a difference and that is particularly important with younger voters and those less inclined to participate. It’s a momentum-shifter.” Democrats have long tried without much success to energize supporters by focusing on abortion. But the Supreme Court’s decision clarified the stakes as never before. Absent a new federal law, abortion rights now fall to the states, and in 12 states led by Republicans, abortion has already been banned or heavily restricted. Many more are expected to follow. Republican strategists acknowledge that swing state candidates will have to tread carefully on the issue. In Georgia, GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker, for example, worried some Washington Republicans by quickly declaring his opposition to abortion rights even in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. Such a position, thought to be extreme in past years, is somewhat common among Republican candidates in 2022. Republicans in other states have largely sought to avoid clarifying their position. The Senate Democrats campaign arm recently established a website, GOPOnAbortion.com, to highlight Republican candidates’ outspoken opposition to abortion rights. While Democratic candidates from New York to Washington state are already running ads on abortion, the issue is expected to play a bigger role in some races than others. Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, who leads the group dedicated to protecting the Senate’s Democratic majority, predicted that abortion would likely matter most as a political issue in Senate races in Nevada, New Hampshire and Arizona — all states in which polling suggests strong support for abortion rights. Suburban women and younger voters are most likely to be motivated by the issue. “There’s a great deal of anger,” Peters said of the backlash against the Roe reversal. “There’s an energy I haven’t seen before.” The Kansas vote suggests that such energy could extend well beyond a handful of states. Polling shows that relatively few Americans wanted to see Roe overturned. More Americans disapprove than approve of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, 53% to 30%, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll from July conducted about three weeks after the ruling. Just over half of those surveyed said they felt angry or sad about the ruling, the poll found. In Wisconsin, the leading Democratic Senate candidate, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, noted that the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe was the biggest fundraising day of his entire campaign. “People are motivated and energetic in ways that I’ve never seen before,” he said in an interview. “I can only assume that that intensity will increase all the way to November.”
When a 10-year-old Ohio girl traveled to Indiana last month to end a pregnancy forced onto her by a rapist, several conservative politicians and TV pundits called the report a hoax. After horrific details confirmed the case was real, some tried a new tack: claiming, without evidence, that the child could have still legally obtained an abortion in Ohio under a near-total abortion ban that exempts only mothers whose lives or major bodily functions are at risk once fetal cardiac activity is detected. Catherine Glenn Foster, president of the anti-abortion Americans United for Life, added another defense for young rape victims: She told the House Judiciary Committee that a 10-year-old’s pregnancy “would probably impact her life and so, therefore, it would fall under any exception and would not be an abortion.” In televised statements and interviews, anti-abortion advocates have used misleading rhetoric about abortion access to downplay fallout and complications from restrictive abortion laws as doctors, struggling to interpret laws that have largely been untested in courts, turn away pregnant patients for care. Those efforts have had an immediate impact, casting a narrative about a post-Roe v. Wade world that overlooks how abortion laws enacted in recent weeks have complicated the way doctors treat rape victims, miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. More than half a dozen doctors interviewed by The Associated Press said they feel compromised and uncertain operating in an abortion landscape fundamentally changed by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that rejected nearly 50 years of precedent that abortion was a protected constitutional right. “It’s a horrible position for health care providers to be in, to be unsure about what’s legal and what’s not legal, and to be questioning the care that they know that they should provide,” said Dr. Jennifer Kerns, an associate professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who initially questioned reporting of the 10-year-old girl’s rape case, said in a Fox News Channel interview that she did not have to leave Ohio for abortion treatment, citing the state’s exemptions. Last week, Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis repeated the claim during a public forum: “She could have had that abortion here.” The law’s Republican sponsor said the same in a newspaper column published Thursday. But it’s not as clear cut as they’ve suggested. The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission confirmed in an analysis that the age of a mother, alone, would not allow a girl to legally access the procedure in the state. Doctors in Ohio are required to document a medical condition and rationale if they administer an abortion to provide life-saving treatment. Yost’s office did not return a request for additional comment. Gonidakis laid out “different scenarios” to the AP under which the girl might have been able to access the abortion in Ohio, such as if a doctor agreed her life was at risk because of her age, while noting that he had not reviewed her medical records. Read: Overturning of Roe v Wade abortion law huge blow to women's rights: Bachelet Across social media, some conservatives have also minimized concerns about access to treatment for ectopic pregnancies, calling it “still legal in every state.” An ectopic pregnancy is defined as one in which a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus, where it has no chance of survival. Earlier this month, abortion opponent Erin Morrow Hawley told the House Reform and Oversight Committee that ectopic pregnancies had become the subject of “misinformation.” “There have been social media posts suggesting that women won’t get treated for an ectopic pregnancy because doctors might be afraid of performing the procedure, but that’s absolutely false,” said Hawley, an attorney at the religious nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom. “Treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is not, in fact, an abortion.” State abortion laws, however, have fueled confusion. Doctors generally agree that the procedure to an end an ectopic pregnancy, which typically includes medication or surgery to remove the pregnancy, is not the same as an abortion. But women reportedly have been declined care in states that have severely restricted abortion access, like Ohio, where an abortion is banned once fetal cardiac activity is detected. Fetal heartbeats can still be present in ectopic pregnancies. In one case, a central Texas hospital told a physician not to treat an ectopic pregnancy until it ruptured, per a letter from the Texas Medical Association. In an email to the AP, Hawley said that doctors who have turned away ectopic pregnancy patients because of abortion bans are misinterpreting the laws. Still, before Roe v. Wade was even overturned by the Supreme Court in June, some religious hospitals had policies against treating women for ectopic pregnancies. And many states have not specified in their newly enacted abortion bans that an ectopic pregnancy can be treated as an exception. That’s left doctors in some states leery of ending the pregnancy, said Dr. Kate White, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University School of Medicine. Lawmakers in West Virginia, for example, are considering an abortion ban that would carve out an exception for ectopic pregnancies. Read: Judges rule on state abortion restrictions, shape Roe impact “Clinicians may be afraid to treat it if the abortion law in their state does not explicitly carve out ectopic pregnancy. You can see their worry, ‘Hey, growing pregnancy, can’t interrupt it ever,’” White said. “They are afraid that the law is too broad.”
Abortion bans set to take effect this week in Wyoming and North Dakota were temporarily blocked Wednesday by judges in those states amid lawsuits arguing that the bans violate their state constitutions. A judge in Wyoming sided with a firebombed women’s health clinic and others who argued the ban would harm health care workers and their patients, while a North Dakota judge sided with the state’s only abortion clinic, Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo. The Wyoming law was set to take effect Wednesday. The North Dakota law was set to take effect Thursday. Meanwhile, West Virginia lawmakers moved ahead with a ban amid protests and dozens speaking against the measure. During hours of debate leading up to the 69-23 vote in the Republican-dominated House of Delegates in West Virginia, the sound of screams and chants from protesters standing outside the chamber rang through the room. “Face us,” the crowd yelled. The latest court action in North Dakota and Wyoming put them among several states including Kentucky, Louisiana and Utah where judges have temporarily blocked implementation of “trigger laws” while lawsuits play out. Attorneys arguing before Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens, in Jackson, Wyoming, disagreed over whether the state constitution provided a right to abortion that would nullify the state’s abortion “trigger” law that took effect Wednesday. Owens proved most sympathetic, though, with arguments that the ban left pregnant patients with dangerous complications and their doctors in a difficult position as they balanced serious medical risks against the possibility of prosecution. “That is a possible irreparable injury to the plaintiffs. They are left with no guidance,” Owens said. Several states including Wyoming recently passed abortion “trigger” bans should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, which happened June 24. The U.S. Supreme Court formally issued its judgment Tuesday. After a more than three-week review, Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, last week gave the go-ahead for the Wyoming abortion ban he signed into law in March to take effect Wednesday but it is instead on hold after the ruling. The Wyoming law would outlaw abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to protect the mother’s life or health, not including psychological conditions. Doctors and others who provide illegal abortions under Wyoming’s new law could get up to 14 years in prison. The four Wyoming women and two nonprofits that sued Monday to contest the new law claim it violates several rights guaranteed by the state constitution. Wyoming Special Assistant Attorney General Jay Jerde was skeptical, saying the state constitution neither explicitly nor implicitly allowed abortion. “No such right exists. You can’t infringe what isn’t there,” Jerde told Owens. The lawsuit claims the abortion ban will harm the women — two obstetricians, a pregnant nurse and a University of Wyoming law student — by outlawing potentially life-saving treatment options for their patients or themselves. Those suing include a nonprofit opening a Casper women’s and LGBTQ health clinic, Wellspring Health Access, that would have offered abortions. A May arson attack has set back the clinic’s opening from mid-June until at least the end of this year. In North Dakota, Burleigh County District Judge Bruce Romanick sided with the state’s only abortion clinic that the state had moved fast to let the law take effect. The clinic had argued that a 30-day clock should not have started until the U.S. Supreme Court issued its certified judgment on Tuesday. The ruling will give the Red River clinic more time to relocate a few miles away to Moorhead, Minnesota, where abortion remains legal. North Dakota’s law would make abortion illegal in the state except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. Meetra Mehdizadeh, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is helping the clinic with the suit, said the plaintiffs “will do everything in our power to fight this ban and keep abortion accessible in North Dakota for as long as possible.” In West Virginia, meanwhile, lawmakers on Wednesday debated a sweeping abortion ban bill on the House floor that would make providing the procedure a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The bill makes exceptions for rape or incest up to 14 weeks of gestation and for certain medical complications. Read: Judges rule on state abortion restrictions, shape Roe impact “What’s ringing in my ears is not the noise of the people here,” said one of the bill’s supporters, Republican Del. Brandon Steele of Raleigh County. “It’s the cries of the unborn, tens of thousands of unborn children that are dead today.” The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said a 19th century law banned abortion in the state. Last week, a state judge barred the state from enforcing that ban, saying it was superseded by conflicting, newer laws. Hundreds of people descended on the state Capitol for the debate. Many stood outside the House chamber and Speaker Roger Hanshaw’s office chanting and holding signs reading “we will not go quietly” and “stop stealing our health care.” Security officers escorted some from the House chambers. Dozens spoke against the bill on the House floor including Katie Quiñonez, executive director of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, who was cut off and asked to step down as she started to talk about the abortion she got when she was 17. “I chose life,” she said, raising her voice to speak over the interruption. “I chose my life, because my life is sacred.”
A sexual assault survivor chooses sterilization so that if she is ever attacked again, she won’t be forced to give birth to a rapist’s baby. An obstetrician delays inducing a miscarriage until a woman with severe pregnancy complications seems “sick enough.” A lupus patient must stop taking medication that controls her illness because it can also cause miscarriages. Abortion restrictions in a number of states and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade are having profound repercussions in reproductive medicine as well as in other areas of medical care. Read: Judges rule on state abortion restrictions, shape Roe impact “For physicians and patients alike, this is a frightening and fraught time, with new, unprecedented concerns about data privacy, access to contraception, and even when to begin lifesaving care,” said Dr. Jack Resneck, president of the American Medical Association. Even in medical emergencies, doctors are sometimes declining immediate treatment. In the past week, an Ohio abortion clinic received calls from two women with ectopic pregnancies — when an embryo grows outside the uterus and can’t be saved — who said their doctors wouldn’t treat them. Ectopic pregnancies often become life-threatening emergencies and abortion clinics aren’t set up to treat them.
The Biden administration on Monday told hospitals that they “must” provide abortion services if the life of the mother is at risk, saying federal law on emergency treatment guidelines preempts state laws in jurisdictions that now ban the procedure without any exceptions following the Supreme Court’s decision to end a constitutional right to abortion. The Department of Health and Human Services cited requirements on medical facilities in the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA. The law requires medical facilities to determine whether a person seeking treatment may be in labor or whether they face an emergency health situation — or one that could develop into an emergency — and to provide treatment. “If a physician believes that a pregnant patient presenting at an emergency department is experiencing an emergency medical condition as defined by EMTALA, and that abortion is the stabilizing treatment necessary to resolve that condition, the physician must provide that treatment,” the agency’s guidance states. “When a state law prohibits abortion and does not include an exception for the life of the pregnant person — or draws the exception more narrowly than EMTALA’s emergency medical condition definition — that state law is preempted.” The department said emergency conditions include “ectopic pregnancy, complications of pregnancy loss, or emergent hypertensive disorders, such as preeclampsia with severe features.” Currently, even the states with the most stringent bans on abortion do allow exceptions when the health of a mother is at risk, though the threat of prosecution has created confusion for some doctors. In a letter to health care providers, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra wrote, “It is critical that providers know that a physician or other qualified medical personnel’s professional and legal duty to provide stabilizing medical treatment to a patient who presents to the emergency department and is found to have an emergency medical condition preempts any directly conflicting state law or mandate that might otherwise prohibit such treatment.” The department says its guidance doesn’t reflect new policy, but merely reminds doctors and providers of their existing obligations under federal law. “Under federal law, providers in emergency situations are required to provide stabilizing care to someone with an emergency medical condition, including abortion care if necessary, regardless of the state where they live,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “CMS will do everything within our authority to ensure that patients get the care they need.” Mississippi’s trigger law, which went into effect Thursday, says abortion will be legal only if the woman’s life is in danger or if a pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to law enforcement. It does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest. When asked about the Biden administration’s new guidance, Michelle Williams, chief of staff to Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, pointed to the existing exception in Mississippi’s abortion law. Read: Post-Roe, states struggle with conflicting abortion bans “Mississippi’s law already makes an exception for preservation of the mother’s life,” Williams told The Associated Press on Monday. “The Biden Administration’s statement of existing law today is about nothing more than maintaining the false narrative that women’s lives are in danger in order to appease his base.”
President Joe Biden will take executive action Friday to protect access to abortion, the White House said, as he faces mounting pressure from fellow Democrats to be more forceful on the subject after the Supreme Court ended a constitutional right to the procedure two weeks ago. The White House said Biden will speak Friday morning “on protecting access to reproductive health care services.” The actions he was expected to outline are intended to try to mitigate some potential penalties women seeking abortion may face after the ruling but are limited in their ability to safeguard access to abortion nationwide. Biden is expected to formalize instructions to the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to push back on efforts to limit the ability of women to access federally approved abortion medication or to travel across state lines to access clinical abortion services. Biden’s executive order will also direct agencies to work to educate medical providers and insurers about how and when they are required to share privileged patient information with authorities — an effort to protect women who seek or utilize abortion services. He will also ask the Federal Trade Commission to take steps to protect the privacy of those seeking information about reproductive care online and establish an interagency task force to coordinate federal efforts to safeguard access to abortion. The White House said it will also convene volunteer lawyers to provide women and providers with pro bono legal assistance to help them navigate new state restrictions after the Supreme Court ruling. Read: Post-Roe, states struggle with conflicting abortion bans The order, after the high court’s June 24 ruling that ended the nationwide right to abortion and left it to states to determine whether or how to allow the procedure, comes as Biden has faced criticism from some in his own party for not acting with more urgency to protect women’s access to abortion. The decision in the case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. Since the decision, Biden has stressed that his ability to protect abortion rights by executive action is limited without congressional action. “Ultimately, Congress is going to have to act to codify Roe into federal law,” Biden said last week during a virtual meeting with Democratic governors. The tasking to the Justice Department and HHS is expected to push the agencies to fight in court to protect women, but it conveys no guarantees that the judicial system will take their side against potential prosecution by states that have moved to outlaw abortion. “President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law,” the White House said. “Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion.”
The Texas Supreme Court blocked a lower court order late Friday night that said clinics could continue performing abortions, just days after some doctors had resumed seeing patients after the fall of Roe v. Wade. It was not immediately clear whether Texas clinics that had resumed seeing patients this week would halt services again. A hearing is scheduled for later this month. The whiplash of Texas clinics turning away patients, rescheduling them, and now potentially canceling appointments again — all in the span of a week — illustrated the confusion and scrambling taking place across the country since Roe was overturned. An order by a Houston judge earlier this week had reassured some clinics they could temporarily resume abortions up to six weeks into pregnancy. That was quickly followed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking the state’s highest court, which is stocked with nine Republican justices, to temporarily put the order on hold. “These laws are confusing, unnecessary, and cruel,” said Marc Hearron, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, after the order was issued Friday night. READ: Post-Roe, states struggle with conflicting abortion bans Clinics in Texas had stopped performing abortions in the state of nearly 30 million people after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the constitutional right to abortion. Texas had technically left an abortion ban on the books for the past 50 years while Roe was in place. A copy of Friday's order was provided by attorneys for Texas clinics. It could not immediately be found on the court’s website. Abortion providers and patients across the country have been struggling to navigate the evolving legal landscape around abortion laws and access. In Florida, a law banning abortions after 15 weeks went into effect Friday, the day after a judge called it a violation of the state constitution and said he would sign an order temporarily blocking the law next week. The ban could have broader implications in the South, where Florida has wider access to the procedure than its neighbors. Abortion rights have been lost and regained in the span of a few days in Kentucky. A so-called trigger law imposing a near-total ban on the procedure took effect last Friday, but a judge blocked the law Thursday, meaning the state’s only two abortion providers can resume seeing patients — for now. The legal wrangling is almost certain to continue to cause chaos for Americans seeking abortions in the near future, with court rulings able to upend access at a moment's notice and an influx of new patients from out of state overwhelming providers. Even when women travel outside states with abortion bans in place, they may have fewer options to end their pregnancies as the prospect of prosecution follows them. Planned Parenthood of Montana this week stopped providing medication abortions to patients who live in states with bans “to minimize potential risk for providers, health center staff, and patients in the face of a rapidly changing landscape.” Planned Parenthood North Central States, which offers the procedure in Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, is telling its patients that they must take both pills in the regimen in a state that allows abortions. The use of abortion pills has been the most common method to end a pregnancy since 2000, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone — the main drug used in medication abortions. Taken with misoprostol, a drug that causes cramping that empties the womb, it constitutes the abortion pill. “There’s a lot of confusion and concern that the providers may be at risk, and they are trying to limit their liability so they can provide care to people who need it," said Dr. Daniel Grossman, who directs the research group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California San Francisco. Emily Bisek, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood North Central States, said that in an “unknown and murky” legal environment, they decided to tell patients they must be in a state where it is legal to complete the medication abortion -- which requires taking two drugs 24 to 48 hours apart. She said most patients from states with bans are expected to opt for surgical abortions. Access to the pills has become a key battle in abortion rights, with the Biden administration preparing to argue states can’t ban a medication that has received FDA approval. Kim Floren, who operates an abortion fund in South Dakota called Justice Empowerment Network, said the development would further limit women's choices. “The purpose of these laws anyways is to scare people,” Floren said of states’ bans on abortions and telemedicine consultations for medication abortions. “The logistics to actually enforcing these is a nightmare, but they rely on the fact that people are going to be scared.” A South Dakota law took effect Friday that threatens a felony punishment for anyone who prescribes medication for an abortion without a license from the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners. In Alabama, Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office said it is reviewing whether people or groups could face prosecution for helping women fund and travel to out-of-state abortion appointments. Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based group that helps low-income women cover abortion and travel costs, said it is pausing operation for two weeks because of the lack of clarity under state law. “This is a temporary pause, and we’re going to figure out how we can legally get you money and resources and what that looks like,” said Kelsea McLain, Yellowhammer’s health care access director. Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said staff members at its clinics have seen women driving from as far as Texas without stopping or making an appointment. Women who are past 15 weeks are being asked to leave their information and promised a call back when a judge signs the order temporarily blocking the restriction, she said. Still, there is concern that the order may be only temporary and the law may again go into effect later, creating additional confusion. “It’s terrible for patients,” she said. “We are really nervous about what is going to happen.”
In Arizona, Republicans are fighting among themselves over whether a 121-year-old anti-abortion law from the pre-statehood Wild West days, when Arizona was still a frontier mining territory, should be enforced over a 2022 version. In Idaho, meanwhile, it is not clear whether a pair of laws from the early 1970s making it a felony to “knowingly aid” in an abortion or to publish information about how to induce one will be enforced alongside the state’s newer, near-total ban. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade has advocates, prosecutors and residents of red states facing a legal morass created by decades of often conflicting anti-abortion legislation. Politicians and state government attorneys are trying to sort out which laws and which provisions are in force. And abortion rights advocates who are going to court to protect the right to terminate a pregnancy are finding themselves doing battle on multiple fronts. Lawyers in Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office are going through all the state’s abortion statutes with a fine-tooth comb, said Wasden spokesman Scott Graf. “Following last week’s decision, part of our subsequent work is to now review Idaho’s existing abortion-related laws and examine them through a post-Roe legal lens,” Graf said. “That work has commenced and will continue in the weeks ahead.” In West Virginia, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging an abortion ban that was put on the books in 1882. The organization says the law conflicts with newer ones and so should be void. “We will not stand by while this state is dragged back to the 1800s,” the organization’s legal director, Loree Stark, said in a statement. “Every day that uncertainty remains about the enforceability of this statute is another day that West Virginians are being denied critical, lifesaving health care.” In Wisconsin, Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a 173-year-old abortion ban, arguing that modern generations never consented to it. The 1849 law prohibits abortion in every instance except to save the pregnant person’s life — conflicting with Wisconsin laws from the mid-1980s that ban the procedure after a fetus reaches the point that it could survive outside the womb with medical intervention. Read: Overturning of Roe v Wade abortion law huge blow to women's rights: Bachelet Arizona GOP officials disagree over which abortion laws are enforceable. Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Wednesday that a pre-statehood law banning all abortions is now enforceable, but Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has said a law he signed in March takes precedence over the 1901 ban. When the Idaho Legislature passed a “trigger law” in 2020 that would automatically prohibit nearly all abortions 30 days after the fall of Roe, lawmakers took some steps to avoid conflicts by making it clear that the law would supersede other bans. Lawmakers put similar language in another ban passed earlier this year, saying the 2020 law would take precedence. But they may have overlooked a few clauses in the decades-old statutes. The 2020 trigger law says specifically that the person seeking the abortion can’t be charged with a crime, instead focusing prosecution efforts on the abortion provider. That would seem to override a 1973 law that makes it a felony for a person to undergo an abortion, but it’s not clear if another portion of the older law making it a felony to knowingly aid in an abortion could still be enforceable. “It’s hard to see how much of it survives, because of all the conflicts,” Twin Falls County prosecutor Grant Loebs said of the nearly three dozen anti-abortion laws on the books in Idaho. It will be up to individual county prosecutors, at first, to decide how to proceed, said Loebs, who is also president of the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association. From there, judges will figure it out. Ultimately, he expects Idaho legislators will have a lot of fine-tuning to do in the years ahead. “I think every state doing this is going to have the same problems,” Loebs said. It all means a lot of juggling for abortion rights advocates. Read: Abortion foes, supporters map next moves after Roe reversal Planned Parenthood is suing over both of Idaho’s newer laws. It has asked the Idaho Supreme Court to hear arguments in both cases on the same day in early August in hopes of getting a ruling before the trigger law takes effect.
A Texas group that helps women pay for abortions halted its efforts Saturday while evaluating its legal risk under a strict state ban. Mississippi's only abortion clinic continued to see patients while awaiting a 10-day notice that will trigger a ban. Elected officials across the country vowed to take action to protect women's access to reproductive health care, and abortion foes promised to take the fight to new arenas. A day after the Supreme Court's bombshell ruling overturning Roe v. Wade ended the constitutional right to abortion, emotional protests and prayer vigils turned to resolve as several states enacted bans and both supporters and opponents of abortion rights mapped out their next moves. In Texas, Cathy Torres, organizing manager for Frontera Fund, a group that helps pay for abortions, said there is a lot of fear and confusion in the Rio Grande Valley near the U.S.-Mexico border, where many people are in the country without legal permission. That includes how the state's abortion law, which bans the procedure from conception, will be enforced. Under the law, people who help patients get abortions can be fined and doctors who perform them could face life in prison. “We are a fund led by people of color, who will be criminalized first,” Torres said, adding that abortion funds like hers that have paused operations hope to find a way to safely restart. “We just really need to keep that in mind and understand the risk.” Tyler Harden, Mississippi director for Planned Parenthood Southeast, said she spent Friday and Saturday making sure people with impending appointments at the state’s only abortion clinic — which featured in the Supreme Court case but is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood — know they don't have to cancel them right away. Abortions can still take place until 10 days after the state attorney general publishes a required administrative notice. Mississippi will ban the procedure except for pregnancies that endanger the woman’s life or those caused by rape reported to law enforcement. The Republican speaker of the Mississippi House, Philip Gunn, said during a news conference Friday that he would oppose adding an exception for incest. “I believe that life begins at conception,” Gunn said. Harden said she has been providing information about funds that help people travel out of state to have abortions. Many in Mississippi already were doing so even before the ruling, but that will become more difficult now that abortions have ended in neighboring states like Alabama. Right now Florida is the nearest “safe haven” state, but Harden said, “we know that that may not be the case for too much longer.” At the National Right to Life convention in Atlanta, a leader within the anti-abortion group warned attendees Saturday that the Supreme Court’s decision ushers in “a time of great possibility and a time of great danger.” Randall O’Bannon, the organization’s director of education and research, encouraged activists celebrate their victories but stay focused and continue working on the issue. Specifically, he called out medication taken to induce abortion. “With Roe headed for the dustbin of history, and states gaining the power to limit abortions, this is where the battle is going to be played out over the next several years,” O'Bannon said. “The new modern menace is a chemical or medical abortion with pills ordered online and mailed directly to a woman’s home.” Protests broke out for a second day in cities across the country, from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City to Jackson, Mississippi. In the LA demonstration, one of several in California, hundreds of people marched through downtown carrying signs with slogans like “my body, my choice” and “abort the court.” Turnout was smaller in Oklahoma City, where about 15 protesters rallied outside the Capitol. Oklahoma is one of 11 states where there are no providers offering abortions, and it passed the nation's strictest abortion law in May. “I have gone through a wave of emotions in the last 24 hours. ... It’s upsetting, it’s angry, it’s hard to put together everything I’m feeling right now,” said Marie Adams, 45, who has had two abortions for ectopic pregnancies, where a fertilized egg is unable to survive. She called the issue “very personal to me.” READ: Overturning of Roe v Wade abortion law huge blow to women's rights: Bachelet “Half the population of the United States just lost a fundamental right,” Adams said. “We need to speak up and speak loud.” Callie Pruett, who volunteered to escort patients into West Virginia’s only abortion clinic before it stopped offering the procedure after Friday’s ruling, said she plans to work in voter registration in the hope of electing officials who support abortion rights. The executive director of Appalachians for Appalachia added that her organization also will apply for grants to help patients get access to abortion care, including out of state. “We have to create networks of people who are willing to drive people to Maryland or to D.C.," Pruett said. "That kind of local action requires organization at a level that we have not seen in nearly 50 years.” Fellow West Virginian Sarah MacKenzie, 25, said she's motivated to fight for abortion access by the memory of her mother, Denise Clegg, a passionate reproductive health advocate who worked for years at the state's clinic as a nurse practitioner and died unexpectedly in May. MacKenzie plans to attend protests in the capital, Charleston, and donate to a local abortion fund. “She would be absolutely devastated. She was so afraid of this happening — she wanted to stop it,” Mackenzie said, adding, “I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that this gets reversed.” The Supreme Court's ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. Since the decision, clinics have stopped performing abortions in Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Women considering abortions already had been dealing with the near-complete ban in Oklahoma and a prohibition after roughly six weeks in Texas. In Ohio, a ban on most abortions from the first detectable fetal heartbeat became law when a federal judge dissolved an injunction that had kept the measure on hold for nearly three years. Another law with narrow exceptions was triggered in Utah by Friday's ruling. Planned Parenthood Association of Utah filed a lawsuit against it in state court and said it would request a temporary restraining order, arguing it violates the state constitution. Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota, where abortion remains legal, signed an executive order shielding people seeking or providing abortions in his state from facing legal consequences in other states. Walz also has vowed to reject requests to extradite anyone accused of committing acts related to reproductive health care that are not criminal offenses in Minnesota. “My office has been and will continue to be a firewall against legislation that would reverse reproductive freedom,” he said. In Fargo, North Dakota, the state’s sole abortion provider faces a 30-day window before it would have to shut down and plans to move across the river to Minnesota. Red River Women’s Clinic owner Tammi Kromenaker said Saturday that she has secured a location in Moorhead and an online fundraiser to support the move has brought in more than half a million dollars in less than three days. Republicans sought to downplay their excitement about winning their decades-long fight to overturn Roe, aware that the ruling could energize the Democratic base, particularly suburban women. Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said she expects abortion opponents to turn out in huge numbers this fall. But Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said Saturday he believes the issue will energize independents and he hopes to translate anger over Roe’s demise into votes. “Any time you take half the people in Wisconsin and make them second-class citizens,” Evers said, “I have to believe there’s going to be a reaction to that.”
Friday's decision by the US Supreme Court to strip the nation's constitutional protections for abortion, overturning the 50-year-old Roe v Wade judgment, is a huge blow to women's human rights and gender equality, the UN human rights chief has said. The decision was made in the specific case of Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health, and Michelle Bachelet said it represents a "major setback" for sexual and reproductive health across the US. The historic decision returns all questions of legality and access to abortion to the individual states. Earlier the UN sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that 45 percent of all abortions around the world are unsafe, making the procedure a leading cause of maternal death. The agencies said it was inevitable that more women will die, as restrictions by national or regional governments increase. "Whether abortion is legal or not, it happens all too often. Data show that restricting access to abortion does not prevent people from seeking an abortion, it simply makes it more deadly," the UNFPA said. According to the agencies' "State of World Population Report 2022," nearly half of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended, and over 60 percent of these may end in abortion. Read: Myanmar’s people deserve return to democracy ending systemic discrimination: Bachelet The UNFPA said it feared that more unsafe abortions will occur around the world if access becomes more restricted. Bachelet said access to safe, legal and effective abortion is firmly rooted in international human rights law and is at the core of women and girls' autonomy, and ability to make their own choices about their bodies and lives, free of discrimination, violence and coercion. This decision strips such autonomy from millions of women in the US, in particular those with low incomes and those belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, to the detriment of their fundamental rights, she added. The rights chief highlighted that the decision came after more than 50 countries with previously restrictive laws have liberalised their abortion legislation over the past 25 years. With the ruling, the US is regrettably moving away from this progressive trend, she said. Meanwhile, the UN agency, UN Women, said the ability of women to control what happens to their own bodies, is also associated with the roles women are able to play in society, whether as a member of the family, the workforce, or government. Read: States need to invest in HR to achieve peace, security, dev: Bachelet The 1994 Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, signed by 179 countries including the US, recognised how deadly unsafe abortions are and urged all countries to provide post-abortion care to save lives, irrespective of the legal status of abortion. The document – resulting from a high-level meeting in Cairo, Egypt – also highlighted that all people should be able to access quality information about their reproductive health and contraceptives.