What’s Happening Around the Country
By Karen @ Planned Parenthood Action Fund | Sept. 7, 2021, 1:45 p.m.
Latest Attempts to Restrict Abortion Access Across the Country
There have been more abortion restrictions across the U.S. this year than in any previous year, according to a report by the Guttmacher Institute. State legislatures have passed at least 90 laws restricting abortion access and nearly 600 anti-abortion laws have been introduced in states in 2021 alone.
Many of the laws restrict or ban abortion at a certain point in pregnancy. Some of the most high profile legislation has been introduced or enacted in Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott signed a law banning abortion as early as six weeks — before many people even know they're pregnant. It is one of the most extreme abortion bans in the United States and went into effect September 1, 2021. Planned Parenthood, along with more than 20 other abortion providers, sued Texas officials, aiming to stop the measure from taking effect.
Additionally, ahead of the September 1 effective date, Planned Parenthood, along with other reproductive rights organizations, filed an emergency request with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to block this harmful six-week abortion ban. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court refused to block the ban and the law went into effect.
Our fight against this extremely harmful law is not over. You can help us defend the right to safe, legal abortions by signing Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s “No Abortion Bans” petition.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case in the fall about a Mississippi law that banned most abortions after 15 weeks. The case is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, putting 25 million people at risk of losing abortion access. Additionally, Missippi’s attorney general urged the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade, adding to the calls for the Supreme Court to decide whether or not the Constitution protects the right to end pregnancies. Get involved by signing this petition related to the Supreme Court case and stand with the majority of people who support reproductive freedom.
As another part of a larger effort by the Republican party to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, more than 200 Republican lawmakers and 12 Republican governors filed briefs in support of the Mississippi abortion ban.
In Arkansas, Governor Hutchinson signed a law banning nearly all abortions in the state unless the individual’s life is in danger. Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights advocates filed a lawsuit challenging the ban, and recently, a federal judge temporarily blocked Arkansas from enforcing the law, saying it would cause “imminent irreparable harm” to doctors and their patients.
While these attempts to restrict abortion access across the country are alarming, they are not new. Together with Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and community partners, we will continue to push back against any attempt to ban safe and legal abortion.
A Win for the Transgender Rights Movement
Federal judges in Arkansas and West Virginia blocked laws that restricted transgender rights in their respective states. In Arkansas, a judge temporarily blocked enforcement of a ban on gender-affirming hormone therapy for transgender people while a lawsuit against the ban proceeds. The law would make Arkansas the first state to make it illegal for doctors to provide gender-affirming hormone therapy and other services to anyone under 18 years old.
In West Virginia, a federal judge ruled that the state must pause enforcement of a law that prohibits transgender women and girls from participating in school sports. We are glad to see these rulings and hope that they can remain permanent.
We know that transgender people, and especially transgender people of color, experience more barriers to accessing quality health care due to systemic barriers and discrimination. We are proud to provide inclusive and compassionate care, including gender-affirming hormone therapy, for transgender and non-binary patients. We are dedicated to making health care accessible and welcoming to everyone who needs that care, no matter what.
Voting Rights Under Attack
In July, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case that dealt a large blow to voting rights.
The case examined two Arizona laws: one banned the collection of mail-in ballots by anyone other than a relative or caregiver, and the other threw out any ballots cast in the wrong precinct. A federal appeals court had previously struck down both provisions, ruling that they had an unequal impact on voters of color, who already face barriers to exercising their right to vote, and that there was no evidence of fraud that would have justified their use.
The Supreme Court overturned the federal appeals court’s decision and ruled that the two laws did not violate the Voting Rights Act that bans regulations resulting in racial discrimination. This decision comes at a time when voting rights are under attack in other states like Georgia and Texas.
There are efforts around the country to fight back against these threats to voting rights. The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in June against Georgia’s S.B. 202, which includes provisions such as requiring proof of identification for absentee ballots, limiting ballot drop boxes, and changing the timing for requesting absentee ballots. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP and other civil rights groups also filed a lawsuit against S.B. 202.
In Texas, The League of United Latin American Citizens and Voto Latino have sued against S.B. 1111, which would add restrictions to the type of addresses that can be used when a voter registers and requires proof of residence for someone who uses a P.O. Box.
Protecting voting rights is essential to achieving reproductive freedom and ensuring that everyone can have their voice heard.
Update on DACA
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), is a policy that protects individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, and allows them to obtain a work permit. Recently, a federal judge in Texas ruled that DACA is illegal and blocked new applications from being accepted. The Biden Administration is expected to appeal the ruling and some members of Congress are expected to introduce legislation to grant permanent protections to DACA recipients. For now, current DACA recipients remain protected under the policy.
At Planned Parenthood we believe that no one’s health should be compromised because of their immigration status. We stand in support of policies that will end inhumane criminalization of immigrants and refugees — people seeking basic human rights, who face institutionalized abuse, harassment, and discrimination. We join our partners in demanding Congress create a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants.