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: PPFA president and VP Harris mark Roe anniversary in FL, HHS Secretary Becerra talks abortion access with PP in MN, and a state fights look ahead.
IN FRONT OF 1000+ PLANNED PARENTHOOD SUPPORTERS, VP HARRIS TALKS ABORTION IN FLORIDA: On Sunday, Vice President Kamala Harris addressed a packed house in Tallahassee, FL, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and announce new Biden administration actions to support medication abortion access. Vice President Harris was joined by reproductive health and rights leaders, including FL House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell and Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson. Addressing the roaring crowd, McGill Johnson said:
… Make no mistake - while what’s happening to patients and providers is devastating, our movement is recharging. The opposition wants a nationwide ban on abortion. But that’s not what the people want. From the streets to the ballot boxes. From Kansas to Kentucky, Montana to Michigan — the majority of Americans have shown up to say, “we want freedom, not fear.”
And even still - they keep trying to come for us. Right now there is a case filed in Texas, trying to end the FDA’s more than two decades old approval of mifepristone. One court could ban a safe, effective, common method of abortion in every single state across the country.
No matter what happens, I’m here to tell you — rain or shine, we will show up and keep fighting. Every. Single. Day…
PPFA president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson. Photo: Colin Hackley
The Vice President was introduced by abortion care physician Dr. Sujatha Prabhakaran of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. In remarks that touched on the experience of abortion workers in the southeast’s remaining access point, Dr. Prabhakaran said:
There are many people like [my patient] who experience the unnecessary harm and pain that comes with being denied the care they need. And that harm falls on our whole society.
That is why it is so important that we not lose hope — in fact, we must build it. We must continue to show up for our communities, and we need leaders who will support us in our fight for true reproductive freedom…
… As a abortion care physician, it means a great deal to me to have a Vice President who, for her entire career, has stood up for my patients, for my fellow providers, and for all of us.
Dr. Sujatha Prabhakaran (L) and Vice President Harris. Photo: Colin Hackley
HHS SECRETARY BECERRA VISITS PP HEALTH CENTER IN MINNESOTA: Last week, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Sec. Xavier Becerra visited a Planned Parenthood North Central States (PPNCS) health center in St. Paul to attend a roundtable on abortion access in the region. Participants, including Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine, CEO of PPNCS Ruth Richardson, and PPNCS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sarah Traxler, discussed Minnesota’s role as an access state, especially in light of the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act passing the Minnesota House of Representatives. Despite Minnesota’s increasing protection for reproductive rights, other states in the region have taken steps to reduce access to life-saving health care.
"Even though there is still access in Iowa and Nebraska, there is a particularly hostile political environment in those states and we anticipate that we will also lose access in those states," said Dr. Traxler.
Beyond the immediate region, PPNCS and other abortion providers in the state see patients from as far away as Texas. Due to patient influx, waitlists have gotten longer, potentially delaying critical health care for many.
Image courtesy of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Read more at Star Tribune.
STATE FIGHTS LOOK AHEAD: This week, we could see the second reproductive health victory of the session with the passage of the Protect Reproductive Options Act in Minnesota.
- This week, The Minnesota Senate is expected to approve the Protect Reproductive Options Act (PRO Act) and send it to the desk of Gov. Walz. Once enacted, the bill will enshrine the fundamental right of reproductive freedom in state law.
- Tomorrow, the Equal Rights Amendment in New York could be up for a second vote in both chambers. If approved, it will be on the ballot in 2024. The ERA would ban discrimination based on ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, and sex — including sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, and pregnancy outcomes.
- In Washington, two bills will be heard in committees this week:
- A bill prohibiting cost-sharing for abortion is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on Tuesday.
- On both Tuesday and Friday, legislation to strengthen data privacy law for personal health information collected by digital apps will be heard in the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee.
- On Wednesday, the Missouri Senate Health and Welfare Committee will hold a hearing on two soon-to-be combined bills that would expand postpartum Medicaid coverage in the state to 12 months, beginning on the last day of pregnancy.
- Last week, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced plans to release $3.5 million to expand abortion training in the state as part of a $69 million package passed by lawmakers last year.
- Today the Utah House will be voting on a resolution that would amend the rules of civil procedure, to prevent litigants from securing a preliminary injunction unless they can demonstrate the case has a substantial likelihood of success–a much steeper threshold than current Utah law. The resolution specifically targets the hold on Utah’s abortion trigger ban which has been in place since June, following Planned Parenthood Advocates of Utah’s challenge to the law.
- Several abortion bills continue to move in Virginia:
- On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections will hear a proposed constitutional amendment to protect reproductive freedom in the state. Following the committee vote, lawmakers, reproductive rights and justice leaders, patients, and providers will hold a press conference in support of the proposed amendment.
- On Thursday, the Senate Health Professions Committee will vote on three proposed abortion bans after the subcommittee recommended last week that the full committee reject each proposal. Also on Thursday, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia will host its annual Lobby Day at the capitol, where abortion rights supporters will meet with legislators and fight for expanded access to reproductive health care for all Virginians.
- Arkansas lawmakers have introduced legislation that would update Arkansas’s criminal code to remove certain existing exceptions from prosecution for terminating pregnancies. The bill would add language to allow the person who aborts, and those who aid or assist that person in obtaining an abortion, to be accused of murder. It was referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
- Today, the Arizona Senate Committee on Elections will hold a hearing on a constitutional amendment that will change the threshold for ballot measures, making it more difficult for advocates to pass ballot measures protecting reproductive health like those passed in California, Michigan, and Vermont during the 2022 midterm elections.
Last Friday, the Wyoming legislature introduced three anti-abortion bills, including a bill that would ban abortion at “viability,” a medication abortion ban, and a bill that would threaten providers with civil penalties and re-define language around abortion in state law. Additionally, an education bill modeled after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill was passed out of the Senate Education Committee and now heads to the full Senate floor for a vote.