Nel's New Day

August 21, 2022

Whither GOP Abortion Bans

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:07 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Last spring, a leaked draft of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and denying women their reproductive rights spread like wildfire throughout the world. Republicans started to panic because its potential affect on the 2022 midterms but hoped that the new would be as disastrous as it sounded. On June 24, the high court, with the support of six Supremes, released the decision, and the draft, filled with irrational arguments, was official with almost no changes. GOP legislators kept hoping the result wouldn’t be as bad as they feared, but the fallout has been worse than they might have feared.

The polls showed a majority rejected the Supreme Court decision, and the first state initiative supporting Roe, this one in highly-GOP Kansas, followed the strong support for abortion rights on the same day as the August 2 primary with 59 percent voting for rights, despite the lies of the anti-abortionist activists to confuse the vote. With no evidence, anti-abortionists refused to accept the vote: nine of the 105 Kansas counties insisted on a recount of the votes. In eight of these countries, 32 votes were changed in the 543,855 votes supporting abortion rights. Thirteen fewer votes favored tighter abortion restrictions, and 19 fewer votes favored the retention of current rights. One county didn’t meet the August 20 deadline at 5:00 pm.   

Kansas was the first loss after the Roe overturning for anti-abortionists who planned to use ballot measures for their movement, a strategy that they have run since the Roe decision in 1973. In over 50 years, 85 percent of abortion-related measures on state ballots have been proposed by anti-abortion groups. Voters approved only one-fourth of them while accepting 57 percent of abortion rights ballot initiatives, all before 1992. Kentucky, Michigan, California, Vermont, and Montana have abortion rights initiatives on the November ballot. A history of abortion initiatives by year.

While 14 states partially or completely banned telemedicine abortion, used in 54 percent of all abortions, Massachusetts’ new law protects telemedicine abortion providers serving patients in states banning abortions by mailing medication and giving telemedicine abortion care.  Massachusetts providers proving legal abortion care cannot be extradited to another state where the practice is illegal. The law prevents anyone from providing information or help to law enforcement or private citizens against the providers, and they can countersue if they are prosecuted in criminal or civil lawsuits. Their licenses are protected and their malpractice insurance is kept within reach for those who face out-of-state civil lawsuits while providing lawful abortion care in Massachusetts. With no requirement of parental consent, minors ages 16 and 17 can receive care. Other required benefits for these Massachusetts legal abortion providers.

In Nebraska, a 17-year-old girl was criminally charged for an abortion of a fetus over 20 weeks. She will be tried as an adult, and her mother has also been charged. Officials discovered the abortion by investigating the girl’s Facebook messages.

Michigan has been struggling over a 1931 ban on abortion. A state judge finally blocked county prosecutors from enforcing the 91-year-old law after the state Court of Appeals claimed that these prosecutors could enforce the prohibition. Although Republicans previously claimed that doctors and pregnant people getting abortions wouldn’t be charged, the law states both these categories of people, including those using medication for abortions, could be guilty of felonies. An exception to “preserve the life” of the mother is vague. Like other states with GOP legislatures, Michigan didn’t repeal the law after the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Idaho Republicans took only seven days to pass the trigger law banning abortion in 2020. Public testimony wanted the law more restrictive by removing exceptions for rape and incest. With no medical professionals in the discussion, situations such as ectopic pregnancies or other medical problems weren’t even mentioned. Abortions are blocked after six weeks of pregnancy, before women know they are pregnant. Convicted doctors facilitating an abortion after that time face two to five years in prison.

The law needed a federal appeals court to deem a similar law constitutional, which occurred in July. The state Supreme Court refused to temporarily stop these laws during legal challenges; it takes effect on August 25 unless a federal judge intervenes in a fourth lawsuit. Technically the law went into effect on August 12 when the law permitting relatives of an embryo or fetus aborted after six weeks, including the family of a rapist, to sue the doctor in civil court for a minimum of $20,000 for a fetus aborted after six weeks.

A DOJ lawsuit to block the Idaho law asserts it violates a federal law requiring Medicaid-funded hospitals to provide “stabilizing treatment” to patients experiencing medical emergencies. Seventeen states oppose the DOJ case, stating that hospitals can just turn down federal funding.

Twenty states side with the DOJ and claim that their own residents would be at risk for a medical emergency while pregnant and in Idaho. Neighboring states such as Oregon and Washington expressed concern about the “spillover effect” if Idaho patients with ectopic pregnancies or other emergencies are forced to seek out-of-state care. Coalitions of major medical associations, including the American College of Emergency Physicians  and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, also filed briefs in the case because Idaho’s law is too vague and difficult to medically interpret. It would also force health care providers to choose between violating state law and being charged with a crime or violating federal law and facing fines and the loss of federal funding.

People who live in red states with abortion bans can expect even greater problems with such issues as corporations boycotting the state, medical schools failing to recruit, communities unable to enlist doctors including obstetricians and gynecologists. Indiana immediately began to experience this difficulty when pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, one of the state’s biggest employers, said the company would look elsewhere for expansion. Republican legislators in the state are so radical that 35 of them are comfortable with a woman being forced to carry a dead fetus to full term.

In Indiana, 27 percent of the counties are considered maternity care deserts with limited or no access to maternal care, and the state has one of the nation’s highest maternal mortality rates, 52 deaths per 100,000 births—twice the U.S. average. In a recent survey of almost 1,400 residents and fellows at the IU School of the medicine, 80 percent said they are less likely to remain in the state after the abortion ban. Indiana is the home of Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the doctor persecuted by the state’s AG for performing a legal abortion on a ten-year-old girl.

Doctors who have a family practice worry not only about the abortion ban but also potential restrictions on fertility treatment and contraception such as IUDs and Plan B medication. Most Indiana Republicans voted against a measure protecting the right to contraception.

The abortion ban is leaching over into the false belief of “personhood” from fertilization. The myth of an early heartbeat is actually the sound manufactured by the ultrasound machine, an electrical pulse. The heart does not exist as any kind of structure until ten weeks when an embryo becomes a fetus, and the term “heartbeat” is not accurate until 17 to 20 weeks. At six weeks, the embryo develops a tube generating sporadic electrical impulses, according to Dr. Ian Fraser Golding, a pediatric and fetal cardiologist at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.

Even so, Georgia’s anti-abortion law gives $3,000 state income tax exemption for “any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat” (aka the ultrasound machine). At that point, the embryo “shall qualify as a dependent minor,” according to Georgia law.

Wisconsin anti-abortion law goes back to 1849, predating Michigan’s law by 82 years. The arguments within the GOP, however, demonstrate the party’s struggle to agree. The GOP Assembly speaker Robin Vos, running for another term despite the attempts of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to vote him out of the primary, wants to reinforce the exception for a woman’s life and adding other exceptions such as rape and incest. Others want to make the law as restrictive as possible. Nine states currently have laws banning abortion from conception, with three more to take effect on August 25.

The red states moving to restrict or ban abortion are the most likely to provide the least care for pregnant women and the children they deliver.

  • Worst maternal and child health outcomes.
  • More difficulty in getting health insurance.
  • Refusal to expand Medicaid.
  • More child poverty.
  • More babies born with low birth weight, indicating serious health problems.
  • Highest infant and maternal mortality rates.
  • Less access to care for pregnant women.
  • Less financial support for families and children.

At this time, 40 percent of single mothers and their children live in poverty.

Despite all the laws, only 16 percent of Republicans say abortion generally should be “illegal in all cases.” Most Republicans said their state should generally allow a pregnant person to obtain a legal abortion if the child would be born with a life-threatening illness (61 percent), the person became pregnant as the result of rape or incest (77 percent) or if the pregnant person’s health is seriously endangered (85 percent). The GOP based insists on total abortion bans; others consider extenuating circumstances.

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