Welcome to “The Quickie” — Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s daily tipsheet on the top health care & reproductive rights stories of the day. You can read “The Quickie'' online here.
In today’s Quickie: anti-abortion AGs get creepier, PP President is TIME’s Person of the Week, and people of faith support abortion rights.
HELLO, DYSTOPIA! ANTI-ABORTION AGS WANT TO RIFLE THROUGH YOUR PRIVATE HEALTH INFO 👀: This week, 19 state attorneys general sent a letter to Health and Human Services Sec. Xavier Becerra opposing a proposed rule that would protect reproductive health information — including about abortion — under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Instead, these anti-abortion politicians want to go through people’s health records to see if they obtained a completely legal abortion in another state. This attempted invasion of privacy is a scare tactic to discourage people seeking critical — and legal — health care. The obvious end game: using people’s private medical records to threaten them with criminal charges.
“This letter is the epitome of hypocrisy and the need for control. Why would Cameron, Rokita or any Attorney General be seeking private medical information related to abortion patients if not to prosecute them for obtaining care?” said Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. “Anti-abortion lawmakers like Cameron and Rokita seem willing to go to any extent to scare patients out of obtaining abortions. How far are they willing to go? The bottom line is that these AGs will stop at nothing, even the unthinkable, in order to terrorize patients from accessing abortion care. Attacks on abortion care are attacks on all health care. We must protect doctors, clinicians and access every way possible. We must stop this madness.”
This isn’t just creepy: it’s a massive violation of our privacy rights. The proposed HHS rule is critical. As PPFA President Alexis McGill Johnson said, “This welcome action is a major, necessary step to protect patient privacy and ensure that health care providers can do their jobs, and limit political interference in patients’ access to care.”
“ABORTION SAVED DEMOCRACY LAST YEAR”: PP PRES IS TIME’S PERSON OF THE WEEK: This week, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson was featured as TIME’s Person of the Week.
Alexis sat down with Charlotte Alter for a conversation reflecting on the past year since the fall of Roe, the electoral salience of abortion rights, the fights ahead at the state level, and more. Some highlights include:
“Abortion saved democracy last year… Like, people do not understand the range of decisions that people make related to accessing abortion, and they also don’t understand how enraged people were that their private medical decisions were now being put in the hands of people like Ted Cruz. So I do think that people underestimated that rage. They underestimated our ability to hold multiple ideas at the same time, right? That we could both care about inflation, and we could also care about our freedom and rights being taken away… And that is what I think we will continue to see throughout 2024.”
“I think the people who stand on the side of freedom and rights have long played a federal game. And I think that that laser focus on federal elections obviously has meant a lot of resources have not gone into states. And I think that the balance of that right now means that we do have to get very strategic and thoughtful about how we spend our resources, in states where we believe that we will be able to maximize and build and sustain power over time… So it’s hard to say like, ‘this is a strategy that’s gonna sweep all 30 states,’ because in fact each one is gonna be unique.”
Listen to Alexis’s full conversation here.
ONCE AGAIN FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK: PEOPLE OF FAITH ALSO SUPPORT ABORTION RIGHTS: This week, the Washington Post featured Presbyterian Rev. Rebecca Todd Peters’s work advocating for abortion rights. Peters heads the Abortion and Religion project where she challenges the idea that people of faith are against abortion rights and do not get abortions.
Peters herself is a mother of two and has had two abortions, she told a congregation in Chapel Hill, NC: “I felt God’s presence with me as I made the decision to end two pregnancies, and I felt no guilt, no shame, no sin. A forced pregnancy or birth is not holy.”
Peters uses the framework of reproductive justice to combat stigma surrounding abortion, the Post writes, “Peters is pushing back against a moral framework around abortion that requires a woman to justify her ending of a pregnancy. In this, she’s referring not only to the typical justifications — rape, incest or the preservation of the life of the mother — but any justification… This framework leads women to feel ashamed about abortion, effectively silencing them. The pregnant woman is erased, replaced with ultrasound photos of the fetus.”
As the Public Religion Research Institute’s most recent polling shows: the majority of American religious groups support legal abortion and support is growing. Peters works to show that people of faith do indeed support abortion rights.
Credit: Yonat Shimron / Religious News Service
Read more at the Washington Post.