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: TN to pull federal funding for HIV prevention to avoid giving grants to PP, PP applauds reintroduction of EACH Act, new polling confirms strong majorities support abortion rights and oppose bans, Utah Bar Association opposes anti-abortion politicians’ attempt to undermine court-ordered hold on abortion ban, and our weekly state fights round up.
TENNESSEE TO PULL FEDERAL FUNDING FOR HIV PREVENTION TO AVOID GIVING GRANTS TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Last week, Gov. Bill Lee announced Tennessee would no longer accept millions of dollars in federal funding from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for testing, prevention, and surveillance of HIV. The controversy began in the fall when Tennessee attempted to kick Planned Parenthood Tennessee and North Mississippi (PPTNM) out of the grant program with basically no grounds for removal. A previous administration had attempted to do the same thing years prior, but was blocked after Planned Parenthood filed suit and was issued a permanent injunction, preventing the state from dissolving any partnership with the organization because of their advocacy for abortion.
PPTNM attempted to work with the Governor’s office following this latest effort, but the state abruptly announced their withdrawal from the federal program altogether last week. These political stunts put millions of Tennesseans, particularly Black and Latino communities and LGBTQ+ people, in danger without adequate funding for addressing HIV and no real plans by the state to make up for the loss of the federal program.
“This is yet another public health crisis manufactured by Gov. Lee,” Ashley Coffield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, said to AP. “They are using Planned Parenthood as the entry way to take down the whole sexual and reproductive health care system. We’re often the most public target, but this affects so many groups.”
PP APPLAUDS REINTRODUCTION OF EACH ACT: Yesterday, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), Diana DeGette (D-CO-1), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9) reintroduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act, an essential bill to guarantee health coverage for abortion no matter how much money a person makes, the type of insurance they have, or where they live. The EACH Act would overturn the discriminatory and racist Hyde Amendment, which blocks people with Medicaid from using their health insurance coverage to get an abortion, and also stops Congress from interfering with private insurance companies that cover abortion.
“Abortion is health care, and how much money you make, where you live, or how you’re insured should not determine your ability to control your own body,” President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Alexis McGill Johnson said. “We continue to be grateful to the champions of sexual and reproductive health care in Congress for continuing to take action to support abortion access.”
NEW POLLING: MAJORITIES CONTINUE TO SUPPORT ABORTION RIGHTS, OPPOSE ABORTION BANS: According to new Navigator data, an overwhelming majority of Americans continue to oppose a nationwide ban on abortion with two-thirds of Americans opposing a national ban. Similarly, over 60% of Americans identify as pro-abortion rights and a majority of Americans (52%) say that the right to abortion is at risk in their state. Three in five Americans continue to disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
With polling like this, it should be clear to politicians that reproductive rights are extremely popular. Yet, around the country and at the federal level, anti-abortion politicians continue to propose abortion bans and restrictions, blatantly ignoring the will of the people.
See the full Navigator data here.
UTAH BAR ASSOCIATION OPPOSES ANTI-ABORTION LAWMAKERS ATTEMPT TO UNDERMINE COURT-ORDERED HOLD ON STATE’S ABORTION BAN: Yesterday, in a rare move, the Utah Bar Association announced its opposition to anti-abortion lawmakers’ proposed civil procedure changes. Utah legislators proposed new rules that are meant to curtail the legal reasoning judges use to issue preliminary injunctions in contentious cases, known as “serious issues” reasoning. This reasoning has been used by the judge who blocked Utah’s trigger abortion ban while litigation continues and also is often used by judges to protect children who are involved in complicated and potentially dangerous family law situations. While the Utah Bar Association did not mention the abortion ban that motivated this proposed rule change, they opposed the legislation on the grounds that it seriously impedes court function and infringes on separation of power. The Association rarely comments on legislation, having last done so in 2019, making their opposition to this blatant attempt to anti-democratically change the rules of the game by anti-abortion politicians particularly significant.
STATE FIGHTS ROUND UP: A number of proactive bills continued to advance this week in states across the country.
- Today, the Minnesota Senate will vote on the Protect Reproductive Options Act (PRO Act). If passed, the bill will go to the desk of Gov. Walz who has promised to sign it. The PRO Act codifies into state law Minnesotans’ right to make their own reproductive health care decisions, including the right to contraception, the right to carry a pregnancy to term, the right to fertility treatment, and the right to an abortion. Following the Patient and Provider Protection Act in Illinois, this is the second major reproductive health victory of the 2023 legislative session.
- On Wednesday, the New York legislature passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in its second consecutive session, officially bringing the amendment to New Yorkers for ratification on the 2024 November ballot. 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.
- This week, Connecticut lawmakers introduced two bills to expand access to contraception in the state. One would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control medication and the other would allow emergency contraception to be sold and dispensed via medical vending machines. Both bills have been referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health. Legislation to expand state Medicaid and CHIP to all eligible people regardless of immigration status has also been introduced, along with several other pro-sexual and reproductive health bills.
- This week, Georgia lawmakers introduced the bicameral Reproductive Freedom Act, which would repeal the state’s 6-week abortion ban, remove barriers to abortion access, and classify abortion as a fundamental right under state law.
- New Hampshire lawmakers have introduced legislation to enshrine the right to abortion access into state law. It will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. A constitutional amendment resolution to establish a state right to birth control has also been introduced.
- This week, the House Judiciary Committee in Vermont held a hearing on legislation aimed at protecting providers and patients from criminal and civil penalties for legally protected health services, including abortion and gender affirming services.
- Virginia lawmakers introduced a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights in state law. A constitutional amendment must first pass the legislature in bill form two years in a row, with a House election between, before it can go to voters as a referendum. Also this week, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia’s Lobby Day brought dozens of Virginians to the capitol to demonstrate their strong support for abortion rights.
- On Thursday, North Carolina legislators introduced a bill to enshrine abortion protections in state law. The push to codify reproductive rights in the state comes as anti-abortion politicians have publicly signaled they will soon introduce further restrictions.
- In Washington, lawmakers considered legislation to further strengthen reproductive health care access and patient safety in the state. House and Senate committees heard public testimony Tuesday on seven bills, including one on data privacy and another on insurance cost-sharing.
On the defensive, we saw major victories in Virginia, while harmful bills continue to advance in a number of states.
- Yesterday, in a major victory for reproductive freedom, legislative champions in Virginia’s Senate Education and Health Committee defeated all proposed anti-abortion bills, including a total ban and a 15-week ban pushed by Gov. Youngkin.
- In Kansas, despite voters rejecting an anti-abortion constitutional amendment last year, lawmakers have introduced a total criminal abortion ban.
- The Utah House passed 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. It will be heard in the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee today and could head to the full Senate for a vote early next week. The Utah House also passed a Senate bill that would enact a gender affirming care ban in the state. The bill now moves back to the Senate for consideration of amendments.
- The South Carolina Constitutional Laws Subcommittee this week considered a near-total abortion ban, which now moves to the full Judiciary Committee for a hearing and vote.
- This week the Wyoming State Senate Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee voted to advance a bill to criminalize the manufacturing, distribution, or prescribing of medication abortion.
- A number of anti-abortion bills have been filed in Indiana, including personhood bills and legislation to criminalize pregnant people who obtain an abortion.
- Several anti-sexual and reproductive health bills were heard in committee this week in New Hampshire. The Judiciary committee held a hearing on a bill related to state recognition of biological sex, which ultimately amounts to state sanctioned discrimination. The House Health and Human Services and Elderly Care committee held hearings on legislation to allow the division of Health and Human Services to collect induced termination of pregnancy statistics and require independent audits of reproductive health care facilities. A six-week abortion ban and other anti-abortion bills have been introduced.
- In advance of the start of their session on Feb. 6, several anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed in Oklahoma, including legislation that would criminalize pregnant people who obtain an abortion; a bill to prohibit schools or employees from providing birth control, transportation, or provide family planning counseling without parental consent; and potential anti-abortion constitutional amendments.
- A Montana Senate chamber approved a bill attacking the right to privacy, saying it does not protect the right to abortion. It now heads to the full Senate for a vote next week.