RePro Roe-D-O 15Jan2023

January 15, 2023

Longhorn uterus morph

Republicans haven’t wasted any time in 2023 getting down to the business of further restricting reproductive rights in various ways.  This week we have a spoiler alert from Alabama’s AG and the Congressional GOP are barely out the gate with 2 new bills that further target abortion access.  Buckle up, Buttercup!

Alabama AG Targets Women

Last week, Steve Marshall, Republican Attorney General of Alabama showed us his cards.

He disclosed that he will pursue prosecution of women who have medical abortions in the state. 

He cited a chemical-endangerment law which was passed in 2006 amid high drug use, and was intended to protect children from chemicals in the home as his rationale.    

Steve Marshall Alabama Attorney General
Steve Marshall, Alabama GOP AG

The idea that they would try to repurpose this law and use it to go after women who choose medicine to terminate a pregnancy is new in the wake of the FDA updating the label of mifepristone to allow distribution by certified pharmacies the previous week. Click here to read more from last week’s Re-Pro Roe-D-O installment about the update to the drug’s label.

Alabama abortion restrictions map

Alabama’s abortion law, “The Human Life Protection Act” targets abortion providers.

But the law exempts women ‘upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed’ from liability under the law. 

Marshall admitted as much in a statement last Tuesday, January 10th

However, he pressed on and brought up the chemical-endangerment law as his law of choice to go after women for having medical abortions.

   

Help/Hope for Alabamans

Emma Roth is an attorney with Pregnancy Justice (formerly National Advocates for Pregnant Women), a nonprofit that provides legal representation for women charged with crimes related to pregnancy.

Roth said Marshall’s comments are “extremely concerning and clearly unlawful,” in a statement to CNN. “The Alabama legislature made clear its opposition to any such prosecution when it explicitly exempted patients from criminal liability under its abortion ban.”

Abortion protest on Alabama capitol.
Protesters on Alabama Capitol Steps

Alabama’s chemical endangerment law does not require reporting prescription medications “if the responsible person was the mother of the unborn child, and she was, or there is a good faith belief that she was, taking that medication pursuant to a lawful prescription.”

So, hopefully the new FDA update on mifepristone will protect pharmacies and patients from the wrath of the insane AG in Alabama.

One thing is sure, however, these white men won’t stop until they control all the uteruses in the land!

House GOP Out of the Gate

That was fast!  After taking the entire first week to pick a leader, the House GOP didn’t waste any time coming for reproductive rights.  Last Wednesday, January 11th, the GOP passed two bills that will further affect reproductive rights. 

Crisis Pregnancy Center Expansion

The first bill is about funding and expanding federal protections around crisis pregnancy centers, which are essentially fake abortion clinics which deceive patients into coming in for bible-thumpy counseling.

Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson introduced this bill which is designed to draw attention to incidents of vandalism and arson at anti-abortion pregnancy centers and other anti-abortion organizations.

Mike Johnson Rep Congressman Louisiana
Mike Johnson, R-LA

Crisis Pregnancy Centers are the church’s answer to abortion clinics, and are not our friends.

Crisis Pregnancy Center Deception Graphic
CPC Graphic from WNGB

They are basically anti-abortion centers, many of which are run by religious nuts, ahem, I mean.. organizations.

Scared patients are deceived into coming in under false pretenses.

Then patients are gaslit with lies about abortion, pregnancy, and pressured into not have an abortion. 

There are more than 2,700 anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers throughout the country!  This is more than 3 times the number of abortion clinics BEFORE the Dobbs’ decision overturned Roe v Wade.  Now, Post-Roe, the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSRH) estimates that about 25% of abortion clinics have already or will soon close. 

Democrats pointed out that the bill lacks any reference to violence against abortion clinics, which have been dealing with bombings, murders and threats for >50 years. 

But the Left was not all in alignment… 

Three Democratic reps voted in favor of the measure:  Chrissy Houlahan (PA), Gonzalez (PA) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA).   

Anti-abortion violence statistics graphic

Whassup, Dems??  You’re not helping.. 

“Late-Term” Abortion Ban

The other House anti-abortion measure is the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act”, introduced by GOP Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri.  This bill addresses abortion from 21-24 weeks, and is intended to ensure care for any infant that survived an abortion attempt. 

Gestational age at induced abortion pie chart
Pazol K, Creanga AA, Zane SB, et al

Yes, you read that right.. this is to combat the oh-so-common practice of “killing babies” after abortion failure.. 

Hmm..  I see important business they are conducting in the House of Representatives.  Sigh.. 

Note that so-called “late term” abortion only accounts for 1% of all abortions and typically only happens when there is a fetal abnormality or the life of the mother is in danger.

Republicans United

Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace from South Carolina went on the record to express her disdain with the abortion topic on the agenda, citing the Midterm elections and public will to protect reproductive rights.  It seemed like she was the only GOP woman who was on our side, but then she voted for both the bills after saying she didn’t like them! 

Fortunately, neither of these bills have a chance to go anywhere in the Democratic-led Senate (Thank you Georgia and Pennsylvania!).  But you can be sure the GOP will continue to waste time and push these extreme agenda items to out-crazy the next GOP candidate running for their seat.

References:

https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/12/politics/alabama-abortion-women-prosecution/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/11/politics/house-abortion-bill/index.html

U.S. House Republicans push through two anti-abortion measures in first work week

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