Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest works to advance sexual and reproductive health and justice through non-partisan political action, advocacy, and education. We are proud to fight to protect reproductive freedom, LGBTQ+ rights, and the rights of all people alongside each and every one of you. Read on for details on the political and legislative landscape on issues that matter most, at the intersection of access and advocacy:
Anniversary of the Dobbs Decision
June 24, 2023 marked the one-year anniversary of the detrimental Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
In one fell swoop, SCOTUS ended the federal constitutional right to safe and legal abortion, after nearly 50 years of protection, access, and autonomy. This devastating ruling stripped tens of millions of people the right to make their own personal medical decisions, causing chaos and confusion for our patients, our providers, our health center staff — putting lives at risk.
This ruling left critical healthcare decisions in the hands of state legislatures. As of June 2023, as many as 21 states have abortion restrictions or bans in place that make it difficult, if not impossible, for people to get care.
We know that the “right” to abortion has never been enough to guarantee access to it; the consequences of this decision have been harmful to too many. Indeed, systemic racism and discrimination has ensured that Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people, immigrants, people living with low incomes, and people in rural areas continue to carry the burden of these bans.
We find ourselves in a time when our basic human rights are being challenged like never before – when exercising your right to bodily autonomy depends on your zip code, when trans people’s very existence is up for debate, and when doctors need to fear prosecution simply for providing life-saving care.
At Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest, we will fight to continue providing our patients with the sexual and reproductive health care and resources they need. We remain committed to building a world where sexual and reproductive rights are basic human rights.
To learn more about how we have doubled down on our efforts to expand access to abortion care and invest in patient navigation efforts to help people seeking abortion overcome logistical barriers — and how you can help, check out our Campaign for Abortion Access.
F.D.A. Approves First U.S. Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pill
On July 13, 2023 the Food and Drug Administration approved Opill, a progestin-only birth control pill, for over-the-counter use for people of all ages. Opill will be the first birth control pill offered over-the-counter in the United States. In May, an FDA advisory committee unanimously recommended the birth control pill be made available without a prescription. The pill’s manufacturer said Opill would most likely become available in stores and online retailers in the United States in early 2024. We applaud this milestone that could significantly expand access to contraception!
Abortion Bans Across the Nation
This is the latest information as of Wednesday, July 12, 2023: Bans have eliminated all or some abortions in twenty-one states across the nation. These states are as follows: AL, AR, AZ, FL, GA, IA, ID, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, OK, SD, TN, TX, UT, WI, WV.
- Bans have eliminated abortion access in fourteen (14) states: AL, AR, ID, KY, LA, MO, MS, ND, OK, SD, TN, TX, WI, WV
- Bans have eliminated access to abortions after the earliest stages of pregnancy in two (2) state: GA, IA
- Bans on abortion at twelve (12) weeks are effect in one (1) state: NE
- Bans on abortion between fifteen to twenty (15-20) weeks are in effect in four (4) states: AZ, FL, NC, UT
Please visit abortionfinder.org for the latest information on abortion provider service status.
Supreme Court Reform
For the first time ever Planned Parenthood is calling for structural reform to the federal court system, announcing support for a number of policies that would shift our democratic systems and institutional norms.
As we face ongoing threats to reproductive freedom and civil rights, Planned Parenthood is looking to advocate for Supreme Court expansion, a shift in term limits, and to implement additional federal court reform measures. Planned Parenthood believes court reform is essential for maintaining a critical foundation of a just democracy because a fair, balanced and equitable judiciary is essential to protect and advance justice and equality.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s expanded court reform position includes:
Expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court and placement of term limits for justices.
- The Supreme Court hasn’t been expanded for 150 years — meanwhile the U.S. has become much more diverse, the population has multiplied by more than 10, and the volume of cases brought before the federal judiciary has significantly increased.
- Supreme Court justices are also now serving significantly longer terms than their predecessors — often 30 or more years on the bench.
Impose ethics and transparency requirements for Supreme Court justices.
- Supreme Court justices aren’t forced to follow a binding code of conduct. Justices aren’t prevented from owning and trading stocks, have poorly defined rules around accepting gifts — and there are no clear consequences for most unethical behavior.
- This makes it possible for outside groups and individuals to influence justices in ways that we know nothing about.
Add seats for additional judges on lower courts to keep up with the growing U.S. population and caseload.
- The federal judiciary is increasingly overburdened and there aren’t enough judges to keep up with the growing U.S. population and caseloads. In 2021, 419,032 cases were filed in federal district courts and 44,546 were filed in the U.S. Courts of Appeals.
- It’s been more than 30 years since Congress last comprehensively expanded the number of lower court seats — the longest period of time between expansions in the history of district courts and courts of appeals.
Prevent single-judge divisions and stop allowing interest groups to pick and choose where to file cases, so no group can guarantee that a favorable judge decides their case.
- Interest groups can shop for judges who align with their views — often judges they’ve helped get confirmed — and then deliberately send them cases, knowing they will decide against reproductive freedom, gender equity, LGBTQ+ liberation, access to health care, and civil liberties.
This announcement follows continued engagement from Planned Parenthood on court reform, including previous campaigns to Reclaim Our Courts.
Federal Policy and Litigation Updates
Preventive Care Coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA): In Braidwood v. Becerra individuals and employers filed a federal lawsuit in March 2020 seeking, among other things, an injunction against enforcing the ACA requirement to cover evidence-based items or services that have an “A” or “B” rating by the US Preventive Services Task Force (PSTF) with no cost sharing. On March 30, a federal judge enjoined enforcement of this provision nationally, holding that PSTF members’ appointment is unconstitutional. At this time, this decision does not create an immediate impact nationally, nor does it affect current contraceptive coverage requirements under the ACA. Additionally, California has adopted identical protections in our state law. The Biden Administration is currently reviewing the decision but has not yet announced an appeal. For more on the case, please see the New York Times.
Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit:
In Silva v. Noyola, three Texas women are facing a wrongful death lawsuit for allegedly assisting the plaintiff’s ex-wife in obtaining abortion medication. The complaint seeks more than $1 million in damages from each defendant. The plaintiff is represented by Jonathan Mitchell, the former Texas Solicitor General and architect of SB 8, Texas’ 6-week bounty hunter abortion ban. Plaintiffs have indicated they will amend their complaint to sue the manufacturer of the pills, once identified. See Slate for more.
Texas Women Sue to Clarify Abortion Ban Exceptions:
In Zarawski v. Texas five women who were denied abortions despite the serious risk to their lives or pregnancies filed a lawsuit in Texas. Texas’ pre-Roe ban, trigger ban, and S.B. 8 all have medical emergency exceptions, but providers and patients are experiencing widespread uncertainty about when an abortion would qualify under the exception. The complaint argues that all three laws violate pregnant people’s fundamental human rights, Texas’ constitutional right to life, liberty and equality, and physicians’ rights to pursue their profession. See the New York Times and the Texas Tribune for more information.
The Latest on Lawsuit Seeking to Block Mifepristone FDA Approval:
On the evening of April 21, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States of the United States granted the stay requested by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Danco in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration et al. allowing mifepristone’s FDA approval to remain unchanged as the case proceeds through the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. This means mifepristone will remain accessible and on the market while the Fifth Circuit hears DOJ and Danco’s appeal as well as any appeal to the Supreme Court.
While SCOTUS continues to protect access for now, it is evident that the lower courts' rulings in this case make it clear that access to sexual and reproductive health remains at risk.
At Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest, we staunchly believe in fighting for a world where access to health care doesn’t depend on who you are or where you live, and where everyone has the opportunity to choose their own path to a healthy and meaningful life. It is time for our leaders to hear us, loud and clear: The attack on mifepristone is a gross injustice that could harm millions of people. We will fight to protect access to medication abortion.
Here’s how you can help: Add your name to the People’s Brief
False Claims Act
The state of Texas and an anonymous plaintiff are suing the three nonprofit Planned Parenthood Texas affiliates and Planned Parenthood Federation of America for more than$1.8 billion. They allege that the affiliates defrauded the state's Medicaid system by getting reimbursed for birth control and other preventive health care services Planned Parenthood affiliates provided to eligible patients. The allegations are false — Planned Parenthood did not commit Medicaid fraud. In fact, a previous court ruled that Planned Parenthood affiliates could provide these services to Medicaid patients during the four-year period in question. Texas knew the affiliates were providing the services, reimbursed them for the services, and never asked the affiliates for repayment until filing this lawsuit years later. Now, in an effort to shut down Planned Parenthood and take away access to health care, the state is demanding that PPFA and the Planned Parenthood Texas affiliates pay as much as $1.8 billion in civil penalties, even though the Medicaid reimbursements at issue total less than $17 million.