April 4, 2023
Another week, more good news and bad news for reproductive rights in the United States. Also a wrap up of several initiatives to watch at the federal level. First, the bad news out of Florida, which has just approved a 6-week ban.
Florida Senate Approves 6-week Ban
The Florida Senate approved SB300, the 6-week abortion ban. Since House Bill-7 has also advanced, it is likely to be signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
In addition to the six-week limit, the bill includes other draconian changes.
It would require that abortion-inducing medication be provided in person by physicians and not through the mail.
Also, the bill would prevent abortions from being provided through telehealth.
As if that isn’t enough, it will also expand services provided through organizations that counsel women against abortions.
Dems fight back
About a dozen demonstrators convened at an evening protest outside Tallahassee City Hall after the bill passed.
Florida’s Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried and Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book were handcuffed and arrested as they spoke truth to power.
Thank you ladies for standing up for Floridians’ right to healthcare.
Federal Initiatives to Watch go Nowhere
There have been some positive baby steps in the US Congress on pro-reproductive rights initiatives in various ways.
Here are the latest federal Congressional Initiatives to track:
The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) was re-introduced in the House on 3/30 and would re-establish a nationwide right to abortion.
With abortion currently banned or unavailable in 14 states, WHPA is urgently needed to restore access to millions.
The bill has already passed the House twice in the 117th Congress (2021-2022), but was blocked by Senate Republicans.
It would establish the federal right for health care providers to carry out an abortion.
It also allows patients to receive abortion care, free from medically unnecessary and burdensome restrictions that single out abortion services as compared with other medical procedures with similar risk.
Basically it would reverse Dobbs and make Roe the law of the land. Nice, but don’t hold your breath.. We would need to overcome the filibuster to get this through the Senate, and we all know how likely that is..
The EACH Act
The EACH Act was re-introduced in the US Senate on 3/29 by Murray, Duckworth, and Hirono.
This bicameral bill would help guarantee abortion coverage without restrictions for millions of Americans.
The EACH Act ends the Hyde Amendment and lifts unjust abortion coverage restrictions for those who depend on Medicaid and other government-sponsored plans or programs.
In a post-Dobbs America, this legislation would help protect the right to abortion and ensure everyone can get the reproductive healthcare they need.
Global HER Act
The Global HER Act was introduced in the US House on 3/28 and Senate on 3/30.
This bill would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule, preventing future US presidents from reinstating this harmful policy and interfering with reproductive freedom around the globe.
Until President Biden rescinded it in 2021, the Global Gag Rule banned U.S. assistance for health care providers who merely mention the word abortion.
As a result, clinics closed, and people were forced to seek unsafe abortion procedures.
Even though the Gag Rule isn’t currently in place, the threat of its return looms over healthcare professionals.
The Global HER Act will block a future president from imposing the Gag Rule again.
This will provide needed stability to health care providers and vulnerable communities around the world.
The Abortion is HealthCare Everywhere Act
The ‘Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act’ was re-introduced on 3/9 in the US House and Senate.
This law would permanently repeal the Helms Amendment and help advance health equity and reproductive justice around the world.
Under this Act, U.S. foreign assistance will provide the full scope of comprehensive health care, including access to safe and legal abortion services.
The bill also includes language clarifying that under U.S. government policy, safe abortion care is a critical component of comprehensive maternal and reproductive care.
Ayanna Pressley, (D-MA) is the Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus’ Abortion Rights and Access Task Force.
She has been a champion of many of these pro-choice bills in the House.
She continues to fight tirelessly with her Democratic colleagues to get back abortion rights at the federal level.
Hawaii Codifies Abortion Protections with SB1
It’s just easier in paradise..
Gov. Josh Green signed Senate Bill 1 to expand abortion protections. The law protects providers, removes in-hospital requirements, and clarifies that minors do not need parental consent.
The law shields abortion seekers and providers from being targeted by restrictive states.
SB 1 specifically prohibits disclosing information about reproductive health care services or workers to civil or criminal action from other states.
It also prevents subpoenas and demands of surrenders issued from out of state for investigation into reproductive health care services performed in Hawaii.
Hawaii joins other states like California, New York, and Washington that have expanded abortion access since the fall of Roe.
SB1 builds on Hawaii’s long-standing history of protecting reproductive health care and access.
Hawaii was the first state to legalize abortion in 1970, before Roe v Wade passed.
Aah.. paradise is lovely..
North Carolina introduced a total ban “Human Life Protection Act”
Republican Rep Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) introduced new legislation Wednesday in the North Carolina House that would limit abortion except when a mother’s life is in danger.
The three-page bill titled the Human Life Protection Act of 2023 proposes to add a new section to North Carolina’s law on abortion.
US District Judge William Osteen Jr. reinstated the current 20-week abortion limit last August.
The few “exceptions” to the bill are drastic, as only “licensed physicians” would be allowed to provide abortions.
The bill creates felony charges for any action prohibited in the bill that “results in the death of an unborn child.”
It specifies civil penalties and disciplinary action that includes the removal of medical licenses. Looks like North Carolina will become another vast healthcare desert if this bill becomes law.
Exodus of Sponsors from Draconian South Carolina Ban
Interesting development in South Carolina as several Republican lawmakers have removed their names as co-sponsors after backlash on the death penalty extremeness in the bill.
It turns out that 11 out of the original 24 co-sponsors don’t want to have their name associated with murdering people who seek regular healthcare procedures like abortion in their state.
We first brought this up on 22Feb RPR as a hypothetical potential that they are debating the death penalty for people who get abortions in the state.
Well, that appears to be exactly what they want to do!
Landing, Leber, Vaughan, Pedalino, Lawson, Ligon, Haddon, Willis, Guffey, O’Neal, Nutt are the cowards who initially signed on and now have removed their name as sponsors of the bill.
South Carolina currently allows abortion up to 20 weeks.
Republicans in the state have tried to cut back access to the procedure.
The state Senate passed a bill in February that banned abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant, but included exceptions for rape, incest, fatal fetal anomalies, and the pregnant person’s life—up to a generous 12 weeks.
References are linked in the text.